UK Compact Under Review
25 August 2008 at 1:52 pm
Just as Australia begins the process of establishing a social Compact between the Federal Government and the Not for Profit Sector, the UK is putting its own Compact under review after a decade in operation.
The Commission for the Compact, which is an independent body that oversees the agreement, has issued a discussion document hoping to stimulate the debate across the UK about the future directions of the Compact.
The three key questions in the discussion document are:
– What sort of agreement should the Compact be in the future?
– How could the form and content of the Compact be enhanced to make it fit for the future?
– How could the Commission for the Compact change to ensure better implementation of the Compact?
The Compact was established in England in November 1998 and was inspired by the Deakin Commission report on the Future of the Voluntary Sector. It is an agreement that provides an overall framework for promoting effective partnership working between the Government and the voluntary and community sector.
It aims to address areas of poor performance and sets out a statement of intent to work in partnership supported by five codes of practice. The five codes cover funding and procurement, community groups, Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) groups, volunteers and consultation.
The Commission for the Compact was established in April 2007. It was set up to improve awareness of the Compact and its Codes of Good Practice, and to address the barriers to its adoption and implementation.
The Commission will scrutinise responses to the discussion paper and formulate proposals for the Office of the Third Sector to consider.
Some of the more controversial aspects of the review include:
– Should the agreement have statutory force?
– Should the commission be made a statutory body?
– Should the commissioner be given powers to investigate alleged Compact breaches?
Sir Bert Massie, the commissioner for the Compact, says the paper is not a formal consultation document, but is intended to be used as a prompt for wider debate.
He says when the debate reaches its end and there is some consensus on a way forward, the Government will carry out a formal impact assessment of the proposals and undertake a full public consultation.
Australia has been looking at both the UK and Canadian models of a Social Compact in it’s discussions with the Not for Profit sector.
The Parliamentary Secretary for Social Inclusion and the Voluntary Sector, Senator Ursula Stephens outlined a timetable for consultation with the sector for July and August, leading to the compact being signed-off by the end of 2008.
During the 2007 election campaign, Labor promised what it described as a new era of partnership and cooperation with the Not for Profit sector as part of its Social Inclusion Agenda.
Senator Stephens says the development of a compact with the sector will essentially set in place principles for the relationship between the sector and Government in contracts, tendering and regulation.
She said that already from her consultations, the sector is keen to develop a refined and formalised relationship based on trust and mutual respect.
The Senator told a recent ACOSS Conference that the government also needs to be able to assure the Australian public that there is transparency, accountability, efficiency and value for money in the services being delivered.
She said while some formal ‘rules of engagement’ should serve to strengthen the relationship between sectors, its core outcome must be to improve services and outcomes for the people who use the services that government purchases.
For more information on the UK model of the Compact go to www.thecompact.org.uk