Mind the gap: voluntary and community perspectives on 10 years of the Compact
Simanowitz, Stefan (2008)


By Stefan Simanowitz, Compact Voice

As the national Compact on Relations between Government and the Voluntary and Community Sector in England enters its tenth year, Compact Voice undertook some research to highlight Compact issues and challenges from the perspective of the sector. Whilst there is an increasing amount of research being done on the voluntary and community sector, little direct research has been done on the voluntary and community sector’s experience of the Compact.Whilst there have been many positive changes to the relationship over the past decade problems persist and new issues arise as the policy landscape changes. Whilst the Compact has retained both its symbolic and practical importance and remains central to improving the relationship between the partners, there is clearly still a distance to travel. A gap remains between the universally endorsed principles of the Compact and their practical application on the ground. Evidence from the sector suggests awareness of the Compact on both sides of the relationship is low, Compact compliance is patchy and effective Compact implementation at local and national level is yet to be fully realised. Despite the fact that the Compact is overwhelming endorsed by the sector there is a reluctance among voluntary organisations to make explicit use of it in tackling problems.

The research explores voluntary sector organisations’ views on the impact of the Compact. It is based on findings of:

  • an independent focus group exercise commissioned by Compact Voice
  • a focus group verification workshop report
  • an annual report by Compact Advocacy Programme regular meetings of Compact Voice and continued dialogue with the sector throughout the year
  • a rapid evidence assessment of relevant Compact literature (2002 -2007)

Stefan’s presentation is available here (Powerpoint format).


Presented at