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RENEWAL OF PARTNERSHIP WITH VOLUNTARY SECTOR

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The contribution of Scotland's voluntary sector to the country was celebrated today as the executive and the sector...
The contribution of Scotland's voluntary sector to the country was celebrated today as the executive and the sector renewed their founding partnership document.

Relaunching the Scottish Compact at the Gathering - a two-day voluntary sector fair organised by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, minister for communities Margaret Curran said: 'The voluntary sector makes a direct impact on the growth of Scotland's economy, the wellbeing of its citizens and the improvement of its public services. Since devolution, we have built up a constructive and positive dialogue with the sector and we are keen to build upon these foundations.

'We share a commitment to delivering the best for our communities. We are also committed to driving up standards in the voluntary sector, by modernising the legal and financial frameworks regulating the sector to enable voluntary organisations to reach their full potential.

'Our agenda is challenging for both the executive and the sector. It includes the rehaul of charities legislation in the form of a new Charity Law Bill which I will be publishing shortly and the establishment of the Office of the Scottish Charities Regulator a couple of months ago.

'The publication of the revised Scottish Compact renews our commitment to working with the voluntary sector and I look forward to continuing the dialogue with them.'

SCVO vice-convenor Isobel Lawson said: 'The Scottish Compact marks the determination of government and the voluntary sector in Scotland to manage their relationship in a way which produces the greatest possible benefit for the people of Scotland. The Compact provides the foundation for a robust and productive relationship and is itself the result of partnerships; like its predecessor launched in 1998, it is the produce of a joint and co-chaired executive/voluntary sector working group.

'That is why it reflects as clearly as it does the agreed interests and perspectives of both parties - for example the execu tive's role in securing accountability and the voluntary sector's role as an independent commentator on public policy.

'I believe the sector will particularly welcome the fact that the new Compact is supported by an Implementation Plan and a monitoring schedule.

These provide an assurance that the Compact is intended as a working document which will have practical outcomes for both the executive and the sector.'

The Scottish Compact was first launched by the Scottish secretary Donald Dewar and SCVO convenor Neil McIntosh and endorsed by the Scottish Parliament in November 1999.

Its aim is to encourage a closer working relationship between the government and the voluntary sector and to ensure that the skills and experience of one informs the work of the other.

The revised Compact published today is the result of a year long process led by a joint Scottish Executive/Voluntary Sector Compact Review Group which was tasked with revising the Scottish Compact and developing a Compact Implementation Strategy.

The Compact is accompanied by a revised Compact Implementation Strategy, which sets out specific actions governing the relationship between the two partners. These are intended to encourage the adoption of Compact principles and practice as the accepted everyday culture of the relationship between the executive and the voluntary sector. The most important elements of the Implementation Strategy include:

  • Demonstrating renewed leadership and political commitment towards the Scottish executive/voluntary sector relationship, including the use of regular bilateral meetings at senior level

  • Extending opportunities for voluntary sector organisations to contribute their experience and ideas to the development and implementation of public policy by raising awareness, promoting best practice and developing capacity, including the establishment of local compacts

  • Strengthening the dialogue and increasing understanding between the executive and the voluntary secto r through the identification of voluntary sector liaison officers for each Scottish Executive department and the more effective role of voluntary sector intermediary organisations

  • Recognising the scale of the challenge of delivering a real culture change and the need for all partners to recognise Compact implementation as a core function within their everyday business and budget

  • Regular monitoring and evaluation of Compact implementation, including piloting of a Compact compliance system

  • Over the next six months the executive plans to launch a number of co-ordinated and related policies which will contribute towards reinforcing the financial, legislative and service delivery position of the sector.

    The Scottish Compact is the first in a series of policy areas reaching fruition. These include the Strategic Funding Review, development of the Volunteering Strategy, the Social Economy Action Plan and the Charity Law Bill. These are all important area of policy and the time invested to get this right will be beneficial in the long-term.

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