The National Coalition for Independent Action today released an open letter to the chief executives of the five national bodies, which have endorsed the revised National Compact, launched on December 16.
The full text of the letter reads:
Dear Stephen, Debra, Stuart, Kevin and Justin,
We write this open letter to you, having been confronted by your ringing endorsement of the 'Refreshed Compact'.
Over here at the NCIA we have long taken a critical view, both of the Compact and the industry that has been created to promote its goodness and effectiveness. Nothing has changed in that department.
The Compact is still a fig leaf for unequal power relationships.
But the reason why we are now spending time on it is because the whole 'refresh' process, culminating in the December 16th launch and your own contribution to this, so vividly illustrates what we have been complaining about in the sector for the last three years.
The relentless orthodoxy that there is only good news out there; that the sector is thriving and partnerships with government and their agents at local level are harmonious, successful and effective; and, that any disagreement with this version of events is seen off as misinformed, mischief-making or ignorant.
What we see is a rather different picture, in which a large amount of public money has now been spent on the Compact good news industry, and where the new version of the document:
pretty faithfully reflects what the government wants it to say
was built on a grossly inadequate consultation exercise (79 responses from 179,000 charities - never mind the hundreds of thousands of non-charitable community groups) and involved ignoring the views and recommendations of some of those most closely involved in the process (via the Compact Refresh Panel)
has ended up with a worse document to the one that preceded it, which focuses on the procurement/contract/privatisation agenda, marginalises (again) the community sector, and totally dumps equalities issues
retains the voluntary code idea that all good people will, of course, take their Compact obligations seriously, so obviously flying in the face of the evidence
and, to add a chilling Orwellian echo, promotes the reclassification from the Single Equalities Bill of 'people with protected characteristics'.
Meanwhile state agencies (right up to the OTS Minister herself) continue to ignore or flout Compact compliance and the bulk of the sector remains quite unsurprised by all this, having long since realised that the Compact, despite its tactical use by a few plucky local activists, is hardly at the cutting edge of helpfulness in their relationship with statutory agencies.
Even the evident focus on public service privatisation and the sector's assumed role in this, is na
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