government and the voluntary and community sector through local compacts.
The fifth compact annual meeting in parliament tomorrow will mark the rise
government, local public bodies and local voluntary and community
organisations. Ministers and leaders from local government and the compact
working group will join home secretary David Blunkett in congratulating
areas on their achievements and discussing the way forward.
A local compact now covers over 200 local authority areas. With 144 other
areas in the process of developing a local compact, 344 out of 388 local
authority areas in England are now actively driving local compacts forward.
89 new local compacts were agreed in the last year.
This year's action plan will focus on continuing to implement the compact at
all levels by building on success whilst addressing challenges,
demonstrating the positive impact of local compacts for communities and
sharing best practice across government, local government and the voluntary
and community sector.
Michael Bichard, chair of the compact working group, said: 'Local
compacts are about improving the way that local government and the voluntary
and community sector work together. Through those improvements, local
compacts are directly benefiting local communities. The fact that 89% of
areas now either have a local compact published or are working on one shows
that people realise that local compacts matter. I am also very pleased that
the compact annual meeting will be commending those areas where local
compacts have been particularly successful.'
Jeremy Beecham, chair of the Local Government Association, said: 'The
fact that the vast majority of English councils have now set up compacts for
better partnership working with the voluntary and community sector clearly
demonst rates the value they bring to local communities.
'Local compacts set the ground rules for local councils and the voluntary
and community sector to work together more effectively by improving funding
arrangements and helping develop and deliver services to meet local needs.
'As democratically-elected community leaders, councils are keen to drive the
further development and improvement of these compacts to make them work even
better for local services.
'The process would be greatly helped by a greater degree of financial
stability so that councils can enter into longer term arrangements to
support or contract with voluntary organisations.'
21 commendations for excellence in driving the compact forward will be made
this year, seven to government departments and national organisations, and the
rest for local compact excellence.
*Launched in 1998, the compact has helped to improve
relations between central government and the voluntary and community sector.
The national compact is an agreement between the voluntary and community
sector and government to improve their relationship for mutual advantage.
local compacts aim to do this locally between the sector, councils and other
local public bodies. Over the past five years, five good practice codes on
volunteering, consultation, black and ethnic minority community
organisations, funding, and community groups have been developed.
*The Compact Mediation Scheme has been now been extended to
cover local compacts. Through mediation, voluntary and community
organisations can resolve disputes with local authorities and other local
public bodies. For further information visit www.cedr.co.uk.
*A Compact DIY Toolkit was launched on 14 April 2004. This is
an interactive website tool to guide individual organisations on the best
way to resolve disputes with government over compact breaches. It shows how
the Compact can help individual organisations - not just the overall sector.
For further information visit www.ncvo-vol.org.uk/compacttoolkit.
*As the national voice for local communities, the LGA represents nearly 500 local authorities in
England and Wales, who in turn work for over 50 million people and spend ?65
billion a year on local services. Our mission is to secure the conditions in
which local government can thrive, promote local government's achievements
and help councils improve. For further information visit www.lga.gov.uk