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Paper 7 - 30 January 2004 Meeting

ASSOCIATION OF HAMPSHIRE AND ISLE OF WIGHT LOCAL AUTHORITIES

30 January 2004

HAMPSHIRE COMPACT

Report by Lou Parker, Hampshire County Council and Christine Pattison, Community Action Hampshire

            RECOMMENDATIONS

            (1)       Development of ‘One Compact for Hampshire’ as a county wide initiative. That the Hampshire Compact between Hampshire County Council is broadly welcomed as good practice in strengthening the partnership way of working between the two sectors; and 

            (2)       That an individual officer is nominated by those districts that have not already identified a lead officer to liaise with during the process.           

            BACKGROUND

1.      The National Compact was launched in November 1998, a milestone in the relationship between government and the voluntary and community sector. Usually referred to as The Compact, its full title, Compact – getting it right together, is the key to understanding what it is about.

2.      The launch of the national Compact was just a starting point for developing an ongoing partnership. It flagged up further work to develop five Codes of Good Practice, all of which have now been published. These cover Funding, Policy Development & Consultation, Volunteering, Black & Minority Ethnic Organisations, and Community Organisations.

3.      At the time of the launch it was acknowledged that the relationship between government and the majority of organisations takes place at a local, rather than national, level; therefore it has been a priority to develop local Compacts.

4.      In recognition of this the government has set a target for all local authorities and NHS Trusts to be involved in developing a Compact by April 2004.

    MUTUAL ADVANTAGE

  1. In appreciation of the fact that the public and voluntary & community sectors can achieve more by working together than they can separately, the Compact sets out the principles which will guide the working relationship between the two sectors. It recognises that they fulfil complementary roles in the development and delivery of public policy and services, in contributing to civil society and improving the quality of life for our communities.
  2. The Compact provides a framework for the working relationship between the two sectors, creating real partnership founded on respect, trust and fair treatment. The aim is to:

      ·        set out a shared vision, values and objectives
·       
build on existing good relationships and to create new ones 
·       
understand each other’s priorities & constraints
·       
discuss differences & manage disagreement positively
·       
provide opportunity for continuous dialogue 

    LOCALISING THE COMPACT

  1. The Hampshire Compact was launched on 20 September 2001, since when it has published two Codes of Good Practice (Funding and Consultation), established a network of contacts, and developed a simple mediation procedure. As well as work to raise awareness of the Hampshire Compact to the voluntary & community sector, the Development Group felt it was just as important to promote a Compact way of working to District and Borough Councils, Primary Care Trusts, and Local Strategic Partnerships. In view of the April 2004 deadline, the Group offered to share its experience and give support. There was a positive response to this approach, some even indicating a wish to sign up to the Hampshire Compact.

   ONE COMPACT FOR HAMPSHIRE?

  1. There have been two meetings to discuss the merits of developing a single, overarching compact between the voluntary and community sector and the statutory agencies in Hampshire. These have been attended by representatives from district and borough councils, PCTs, the Hampshire Ambulance NHS Trust and the Local Learning and Skills Council. Probation, Police and Connexions have been kept informed of progress. Wide spread support has been expressed, not least because it would bring the following benefits:

·        sharing of resources – time & energy
·       
sharing of costs
·       
less confusion, less duplication
·       
making life simpler, especially for county wide organisations or those who work       across more than one district
·       
building a shared understanding across all statutory partners of the role and       contribution of the voluntary and community sector 

  1. Some districts have already started work on developing a local Compact. It is important not to displace this work, as it is clear that in some ways the most valuable aspect of developing a Compact is the process – the dialogue and process of getting to know each other, so that the local issues and priorities are reflected and implemented through local action plans.
  1. A working group has already met twice to discuss the principles that should be captured in an overarching Compact and to start the process of drafting a document, which can be taken out to the districts for consultation. This move towards a countywide Compact will also provide the basis for reviewing the content of the existing Hampshire document.

WHY SHOULD THE STATUTORY SECTOR BE INTERESTED IN A COMPACT?

  1. There is increasing evidence that Local Compacts are helping workers from both sectors to make more sense of the challenges and difficult issues they have to face.  A survey in 2001 found that in those areas where a Compact was in place or was being developed, there was a 7-fold improvement in relations. Most importantly, government is looking for evidence of continuing and effective local Compact development and levels of voluntary & community sector partnership, especially through LSPs. GOSE is building Local Compacts into their work programme, promoting and supporting their development. It is currently undertaking a mapping exercise across the south east region, and will be running four sub regional events starting in January.
  2. What does the voluntary and community sector bring to the partnership?

·        specialist knowledge, experience and skills; this may come through direct experienceof the user perspective
·       
access to the hard-to-reach
·       
advocacy and representation for people who find it difficult to articulate their own needs and aspirations
·       
innovation and flexibility; freedom from institutional pressures
·       
access to different sources of funding
·       
independence; the ability to nurture community development because they are not perceived as part of the ‘establishment’
·       
the contribution of volunteers

  1. What do statutory organisations want to achieve:

·        productive engagement with communities
·       
improved services for the community
·       
increased participation in the community strategy
·       
development of useful contacts
·       
practise genuine partnership
·       
encourage a diversity of voices to inform and influence policies and services
·       
regular contact with voluntary and community groups in touch with what is happening on the ground
·       
improve outcomes for external audits, inspections and reviews

      CONCLUSION

  1. Working alone will not achieve the above fully, it requires meaningful dialogue between all statutory agencies and the voluntary & community sector. The Compact is the mechanism to drive this forward.

LOU PARKER
Hampshire County Council

CHRISTINE PATTISON
Community Action Hampshire

Date:                15 December 2003
Annex:              1

Contact:            01962 846011/ louise.parker@hants.gov.uk 
                       
01962
857360 / christine.pattison@action.hants.org.uk 

ANNEX

The Hampshire Compact
A framework for the future working relationship of  Hampshire County Council and the voluntary and community sector

Introduction
Communication and Dialogue
Resourcing and accountability
Consultation
Monitoring and reviewing the implementation of the Compact
Glossary

INTRODUCTION

Background

The Compact on Relations between Government and the voluntary and community sector (1) was published in November 1998 to provide a framework for the relationship between the two sectors, and was seen as a starting point for local authorities to adopt and adapt their own compacts.

It provided the inspiration for the Hampshire Compact Development Group, which was set up in early 2000 with representatives of the County Council and voluntary and community organisations. The Compact between the Council and the voluntary and community sector aims to create a new approach to working together.

Partnership is a strong thread running through many central Government initiatives relating to the way local authorities work and consult with their communities. The emphasis is firmly on `joined-up thinking' - co-ordinated planning and action to deliver local solutions, innovation, continuous service improvement, and renewed local democracy. The two sectors are already working on a multi-agency basis, which brings its own challenges and opportunities. The national Compact has at its heart "Getting it right together" - that is what we aim to do in Hampshire.

Hampshire is one of the largest shire counties in England. It is an exceptionally diverse county, combining small rural communities with large urban conurbations. Nearly 70% of the county is rural, home to 8% of the population. This diversity means we need to address both rural and urban living issues.

The County Council provides local services to 1.2 million people in the county, outside the cities of Portsmouth and Southampton. Since 1997 those two cities have had responsibility for all local services in their area. However, we recognise that many voluntary and community organisations based outside the Council's administrative area still have a continuing relationship with the Council.

Aim

to improve communication, understanding, collaboration, trust and respect between Hampshire County Council and the voluntary and community sector in the true spirit of partnership to the benefit of the people of Hampshire.

Common principles

1.1 Both the Council and the voluntary and community sector share a common objective: to work for the benefit of the communities of Hampshire and to ensure high quality, accessible services, thereby promoting equality of opportunity and social inclusion.

1.2 There is recognition that they fulfil complementary roles. The Council supports the voluntary and community sector, whose contribution is essential to the effectiveness of the Council's activity and enables both sides to achieve more together than separately.

1.3 The diversity of the voluntary and community sector, in terms of its size, resources, membership and different working practices, is recognised as a strength. Both sectors acknowledge the need for flexibility in setting up structures and procedures, which are accessible to everyone.

1.4 Partnership, where all partners are equally important, is central to the success of the relationship. This involves:

mutual appreciation of each other's roles and objectives

mutual appreciation of the constraints facing both the statutory and the voluntary and community sector.

1.5 Both sectors increase community involvement and participation by supporting volunteer activity and recognise the knowledge, experience and expertise which it brings.

1.6 The Council acknowledges the independence and diversity of the voluntary and community sector and the sector's right to challenge, comment or campaign on policy and practice.

1.7 The voluntary and community sector acknowledges the Council's statutory responsibilities, particularly in relation to Best Value, and the constraints placed on it by central Government directives and performance indicators.

1.8 The voluntary and community sector also recognises the decision-making role of elected members and their democratic responsibility to balance the needs of everyone in Hampshire and work within the resources available.

1. COMMUNICATION AND DIALOGUE

1.1. The Council and the voluntary and community sector are committed to setting up open and effective channels of communication to ensure that their aims and aspirations are fully understood and advanced in the most effective way.

1.2. The Council and the voluntary and community sector recognise that relevant and regular communication is a key to the success of their partnership. Both sectors recognise that successful communication and partnership is dependent on mutual respect and openness.

1.3. The Council and all organisations within the voluntary and community sector, particularly umbrella organisations, recognise their responsibility to be channels of communication.

1.4. The Development Group will review communication methods to ensure that the best use is made of all mediums of communication from face to face contact, meetings and newsletters to use of the World Wide Web.

1.5. A network of contacts will be established by the Development Group to provide quick and guaranteed access to information. The Council will identify named contacts in departments to help facilitate this access. The Development Group will be responsible for publishing details of a network of contacts within both sectors and for ensuring that the details are reviewed annually.

1.6. For enquiries relating to the Compact, the Development Group will always be the first point of contact.

1.7. Both sectors undertake to respect the confidentiality of information, when given access to it on that basis.

1.8. The Development Group will build on the existing framework of annual meetings between the two sectors and publish details of its annual work programme.

2. RESOURCING AND ACCOUNTABILITY

Funding

2.1. Funding includes either: service level agreements or contracts, or grants.

2.2. The Development Group will develop a code of good practice for funding. The code will set out principles of good funding and the accountability and responsibilities of both sectors.

2.3. The Council will:

a. allocate resources to the voluntary and community sector in Hampshire against clear, transparent and consistent criteria, taking account of priorities, Best Value and value for money, and principles of equality, efficiency, effectiveness, sustainability and accountability.

b. inform the voluntary and community sector about its funding priorities and criteria.

c. support the infrastructure of the voluntary and community sector to help voluntary and community organisations develop the capacity to respond to the needs and priorities of service users.

2.4. The voluntary and community sector will:

a. recognise and respect the need for accountability and the principles of Best Value and value for money.

b. acknowledge the constraints the Council works under and its dependency on Government funding and direction on spending priorities.

c. develop quality standards for service delivery that are appropriate to each organisation, without undermining the contribution and involvement of volunteers.

Advice and expertise

2.5. The Compact will help make the most of the wealth of knowledge, expertise and experience available in both sectors, by developing mutual advice and support networks to avoid duplication of effort and providing opportunities for staff secondments.

Joint training

2.6. The Development Group will identify and develop ways of sharing and spreading learning across the Council and other public bodies and the voluntary and community sector in Hampshire. Our aim is to ensure continuous improvement in the ways we work together. Activities might include joint training in areas such as Information Technology and Best Value and quality issues.

Premises and buildings

2.7. Both sectors will assist each other with buildings, premises and equipment. Charges may be appropriate.

3. CONSULTATION

3.1. Both sectors recognise that consultation is a two-way process which is in many cases influenced by central Government. Both sectors agree to:

a. build on, co-ordinate, develop and improve existing consultation mechanisms ensuring they are inclusive

b. appraise together new policies and procedures, particularly at the developmental stage, to identify as far as possible implications for both sectors.

Timescales

3.2. Both sectors agree to:

a. recognise the time constraints within which both parties have to work

b. allow reasonable timescales for a response, aiming for the Government's recommended minimum of 12 weeks for written consultations. When this is not possible, explain why a short response time has been set. Both sectors recognise, however, that central Government timescales can be very short.

Government consultation

3.3. Both sectors agree to:

a. give each other advance warning of potential future consultations from central Government and other agencies where possible

b. work together to lobby Government for early publication of consultation timetables and realistic timescales.

Information

3.4. Both sectors agree to:

a. explain what the consultation is about and whose views are being sought

b. provide a summary of the consultation and indicate where the full version is available

c. use simple language and eliminate unnecessary jargon; where this is not possible, provide an explanation of terms used in the consultation

d. provide information on the outcomes of the consultation process and the participants

e. provide consultation documents in a variety of accessible formats, as appropriate

f. respect the confidentiality of information within the constraints of the law and the proper performance of public duties.

Resources

3.5. Both sectors agree to be sensitive to the additional costs and time involved in consultations which may affect the ability of the voluntary and community sector to take part.

3.6. The Council will make clear where change is possible within a consultation exercise and how many stages of consultation there are going to be and with whom.

3.7. The voluntary sector will:

a. publicise and provide information about consultations

b. use its infrastructure to encourage and support appropriate participation in consultation

c. make clear whether it is making a response as a service provider, advocate, user representative or campaigning organisation

d. in the case of umbrella bodies, make clear whether their response is based on consultation with members or accumulated experience and knowledge.

4. MONITORING AND REVIEWING THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE COMPACT

4.1. The County Council and the voluntary and community sector are jointly committed to monitoring and reviewing the Compact in order to assess its continuing effectiveness and impact.

4.2. The Development Group will continue to meet at regular intervals to:-

a. monitor progress against agreed action points and seek regular feedback

b. jointly evaluate both sectors' achievements and progress of work and determine criteria for evaluating success on an annual basis

c. develop more detailed codes of good practice on the various sections in the Compact, as the need for them becomes apparent. The annual meeting of the two sectors will then decide on the adoption of any codes as an appendix to the Compact

d. identify any new tasks that need to be undertaken and determine the work programme for future years

e. review the composition of the Development Group and look at setting up any necessary sub groups.

4.3. There will also be a further annual review of the Compact by a wider reference group whose members will be agreed by the Development Group.

4.4. The Development Group will consider and set up appropriate mechanisms for resolving conflicts and complaints

4.5. Progress on the Compact will be reported to the annual meeting of the Council and the voluntary and community sector, and both sectors undertake to report to their members and constituents on an annual basis.

4.6. Development of the Compact will also feed into the annual review of the Council's Corporate Strategy. Improving relationships with the voluntary and community sector is a major focus area under Aim 4 `Partnership for strong communities'.

GLOSSARY

Advocacy is speaking or acting in support of or on behalf of another person(s) in accordance with their wishes. It helps people to speak out for what they want or need, and encourages them to tell others about how they feel and what is important to them.

Best Value is a statutory responsibility for local authorities to achieve continuous improvement in services through a combination of economy, efficiency and effectiveness. All of an authority's services must be reviewed by challenging how and why they are provided, comparing them with the performance of others, consulting with stakeholders and testing their competitiveness against external providers.

Campaign or lobby is to try to influence decision-makers to introduce specific, and/or change existing, policies and programmes.

Consultation is the process of seeking and listening to views within defined parameters. This includes seeking information and advice about future decisions, and testing the impact of decisions which have already been taken.

Contracts record the agreement between the purchaser (sometimes called the commissioner) of a service and the provider about the specification for the service to be delivered and the arrangements for delivering and paying for it. Also included are arrangements for monitoring and ending the contract. Contracts are legally binding.

Diversity simply means the varieties and differences within voluntary and community groups and the local community.

Evaluation is the assessment of the value of a project, piece of work, or service. Its purpose is to help an organisation decide whether it is achieving what it wants to and if it needs to do anything differently in the future.

Governance

The guidance, direction and supervision of a charity by its trustees, members etc, in accordance with its governing document or constitution.

Monitoring is the routine collection and recording of information, sometimes against statutory performance indicators, on the activities of an organisation. It provides information on what an organisation is doing, but makes no judgement about the value of the outcome or results of those activities.

Networking is basically getting to know people. It is the process by which relationships and contacts between people and organisations are established, nurtured and used for mutual benefit. These links between people and organisations give access to ideas, information, resources and expertise, which might not otherwise be available.

Partnership is when one or more organisations work together to achieve a shared and clear set of objectives. There is a clear understanding of the contribution of each organisation, which takes into account their differences, and there is equal respect for the role and experience of all partners. A successful partnership depends on the sharing of information and decision-making.

Performance indicators

Indicators are tools that measure, simplify and communicate important issues, trends and standards of performance. They provide a benchmark against which progress can be measured year on year and provide comparisons between organisations. They usually measure cost, economy, efficiency and effectiveness.

Service level agreements are written contracts which set out how two organisations will work together over an agreed period. They are not as onerous as a typical contract and usually contain less legalistic language but may be legally enforced.

The Statutory sector is the name given to organisations created through Acts of Parliament whose functions are determined by the law. Local authorities, including parish and town councils, are democratically elected and are accountable to the voters and central government. They have legal responsibilities for the social well-being, economic development, environment and health of the people they serve. Other statutory agencies, such as health authorities and the probation, police, fire & rescue and ambulance services, are not directly elected and are accountable to the appropriate Secretary of State.

The Voluntary and community sector

voluntary organisations are: formally structured; not-for-profit (although they may make surpluses); independent and not part of government; managed by unpaid, voluntary management committees or boards of trustees; have paid employees and volunteers; may be registered charities and/or companies limited by guarantee

community organisations are: local community and self-help groups; more informal; often made up entirely of volunteers; any staff are likely to be part-time; independent; without regular income or funding

Trustees are the group of people responsible for the control and management of a charity, which includes members of a charitable association's management committee and directors of charitable companies. Certain specific statutory duties arise from being a trustee.

Umbrella organisations - also sometimes referred to as intermediary organisations - are an important force in the voluntary sector, fulfilling four main functions: development, services to other organisations, liaison and representation. However, it is acknowledged that not all umbrella organisations perform all of these functions. (Deakin Commission 1996)

Users are the people who benefit from or use a service. They are also called customers, clients, consumers, beneficiaries, and recipients.

Volunteering is an activity that a person (a volunteer) chooses to undertake, whereby they do something to benefit either an individual or a group (not relatives) or to benefit the environment, and for which they receive no payment.

1 - This document is available as an Adobe Acrobat PDF file - Compact on Relations Between Government and the Voluntary Sector in England (283kb). 

Last update: 19/01/2004
Author: Nick Goulder, Director

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