“What has happened to the Compact?” a Not-for-Profit Chief Executive recently asked me. “Good question” I replied. It seems to me that most people were unclear about the status of the Compact and, therefore, how binding it was. However, this should not be the case with the Best Value statutory guidance, issued, last year, by Communities and Local Government and signed by the Minister. As the CEO was asking in the context of a contract termination, following a local social care service being decommissioned, I suggested that she read it and used it.
For those of you who have not yet seen the guidance, I urge you to download it (from the CLG website), read it (at just a couple of pages it is mercifully short) and use it. Paragraph 3 refers to consultation with local organisations, both Not-for-Profit and private sector, and it specifies “This should apply at all stages of the commissioning cycle, including when considering the decommissioning of services.” So, for those of you who have had a service contract terminated without consultation, this decision can be challenged under the guidance. Additionally, ask commissioners how they plan to replace the decommissioned service. If emerging evidence is anything to go by, it may well be by either a telephone line or web- based service. If this is the case, ask them what impact assessment they did, particularly for those that cannot access or use the web.
Remember, this is statutory guidance, endorsed by the Minister and, as such, may prove to have more teeth than the Compact but, only if we use it.