Compact Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Compact?
The Compact is an agreement that sets out the ‘rules of engagement’ for how many of Shropshire’s public sector organisations and the county’s Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise sector (VCSE) groups and organisations will work together for the benefit of the people they serve. The Compact is a way of working setting out agreed values and principles.

Who does the Compact apply to?
The Shropshire Compact applies to staff employed by public sector signatories to the Shropshire Compact and all voluntary and community groups and organisations working within the county. The Compact is particularly important for anyone working in a partnership arrangement between the Council and VCSE.

Why do I need to know about the Compact?
If you are a public sector commissioner or from a VCS group or organisation working in Shropshire it is likely that you will undertake some form of partnership work, however formal or informal. This relationship may develop through a funding or contract arrangement, a partnership project or meeting, a volunteering opportunity, your involvement in a consultation process or because you wish to influence decision making and meet a community need. Whatever the form of that relationship, the Compact can help by making you aware of, and helping you to adopt, good practice values and codes. The Compact makes clear commitments about the expectations the VCS and the public sector signatories have in dealing with each other.

How was the Compact developed?
The Shropshire Compact was produced in 2013 by a Compact Development Group which consisted of representatives from Shropshire Council, Shropshire CCG, the Association of Local Councils, the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Office and the Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS). The group led a programme of consultation to ensure that as many people as possible had an opportunity to contribute to the process. A regular Compact Survey is carried out to request feedback.

What is the Shropshire Voluntary and Community Sector Assembly?
The Shropshire Voluntary and Community Sector Assembly enables representatives from voluntary and community organisations to come together to discuss common issues, develop shared strategies and plans and support each other in delivering services. The Assembly supports joint working with public sector bodies such as the Shropshire Council and Shropshire County Primary Care Trust. The role of the VCS Assembly covers communication, representation and engagement, networking and support. The Assembly consists of a number of different Forums of Interest supported by The Assembly Board. Forums of Interest may be formed of groups and organisations delivering similar activities/sharing similar objectives; providing common types of service; or targeting similar client groups. Examples include the Health and Social Care Forum, Community  Transport Forum and Children and Young People’s Summit. Any VCS group or organisation working in Shropshire may join the Assembly free of charge. To find out more visit:

What is the National Compact?
The National Compact was developed to set out commitments to enhance the way in which the Government and VCS work together for the benefit of communities and citizens. The National Compact was designed to meet a range of needs, from assisting funding relationships to encouraging better engagement and shared decision making. Following the principles and values contained in the Compact should help partners achieve equity in relationships, make informed policy decisions, better manage funding to meet the needs of users, tackle inequality and discrimination and achieve value for money. There has been a National Compact in place since 2008. The National Compact arose from the recommendations made in the 1996 Report of the Deakin Commission on the future of the voluntary sector. The Deakin Commission concluded that the Government should recognise the importance of the voluntary and community sector’s diverse roles and its own responsibility to promote a thriving VCS. To find out more visit:

How does the Shropshire Compact differ from the National Compact?
The National Compact supports work of Government departments. It is also particularly helpful for national VCS organisations, and those VCS organisations that have a relationship with the upper tiers of Government. To facilitate working at a local level nearly every area in England has a local Compact in place between the local authority, other statutory partners and the VCS. The Shropshire Compact uses good practice from the National Compact but it specifically describes the way in which Shropshire public sector commissioners and local voluntary and community groups will work together.

How can I consult or engage with the VCSE sector?
The Shropshire Voluntary and Community Sector Assembly can help you carry out consultations with VCS Assembly members. There are just under 300 individual groups and organisations with VCS Assembly membership. The Assembly can arrange consultation and engagement with Assembly members, through its website and regular newsletters or focus on organisations with a specific focus by working with Forums of Interest. To find out more about the Assembly and its Forums of Interest visit pages within this website. To organise a consultation with the VCS contact the VCS Assembly support team.

What will the Compact achieve?
By working together to meet shared expectations and implement good practice we should: improve understanding and working relationships; generate more meaningful consultation and engagement processes; learn from mistakes and become better at resolving problems; provide greater transparency and accountability; and create an environment that supports a thriving voluntary and community sector in Shropshire.

The Compact isn’t legally binding so ‘has it got any teeth’?
Compact concerns are taken very seriously and there is a strong commitment at both national and local levels to resolve compact issues. Over recent years the Compact has been mentioned in legal procedings despite its lack of legal status. Shropshire’s Compact Group will work to resolve local issues and are able to call on Compact Voice to step in and assist if issues can’t be resolved by local people and independent support is needed. Experience locally has found that the Compact does help to resolve concerns and, despite its lack of legal status, it works!

How is the Compact implemented?
Although a lot of work takes place at an individual level between public sector commissioners and VCSE groups and organisations, there is also a great deal that can be done to assist these individual partnership arrangements. A Compact Group meets regularly to oversee implementation of the Compact and provide Compact communications.

Will there be training on the Compact?
The Change and Compact Group is not currently offering training but if there is a demand the group will work to provide support in the form of presentations and group or individual discussions. Please contact the VCS Assembly Coordinator

How will Compact concerns and disputes be resolved?
A procedure is in place to manage Compact concerns. Compact concerns are recorded and members of the Change and Compact Group do their best to resolve all issues raised as efficiently as possible. Please see the following web page for details:

How will we know if the Compact works?
The Change and Compact Group will communicate news about the Compact through the VCS Assembly newsletter. An annual update will also be included in the VCS Assembly Annual Report.

How can I get more involved or find out more?
For more information contact the VCS Assembly Coordinator see:

Compact Voice has produced a useful Question and Answer document see:
Compact Voice Q and A document



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