Sir Bert Massie, the former chair of the Disability Rights Commission, has been appointed as the new Commissioner for the Compact, the agreement that strives to develop links between public, voluntary and community organisations.
Massie's role will be to push for greater public sector compliance with the Compact, which defines government responsibilities in dealing with the voluntary and community sector.
Last month, research by the Improvement and Development Agency revealed that while there is a lot of superficial contact between commissioners and the third sector, there is a serious lack of confidence in their ability to deliver.
While Massie is not thought to have negotiated any enhancement of the powers of the commissioner, which some critics felt were limited, his office has received an increase in funding from £1.7m per year last year to £2m per year for the next three years. And Compact Voice, the body representing third sector interests, now receives nearly £1m - up 25% on last year.
It is also hoped that the permanent nature of his appointment to the £40,000-a-year post, which he won in open competition, will also beef up its effectiveness.
Commenting on his appointment Massie said: "I am delighted to have the opportunity of contributing to the work of ensuring that the voluntary and statutory sectors work together closely to improve and enhance the services and support they offer the public. The Commission for the Compact will ensure that the Compact is a living document that influences action."
Massie has worked in the voluntary sector for 40 years and has served on a number of government advisory committees. Before he became chair of the DRC he was chief executive of Radar, the Royal Association for Disabilty and Rehabilitation. He is currently a commissioner for the recently created Equality and Human Rights Commission, in conjunction with his new role at the Compact.
He takes over from interim commissioner Helen Baker, a registered social worker who has worked in executive and non-executive roles both in the statutory and voluntary sectors across social care, health and education.
Announcing the appointment, the third sector minister, Phil Hope, said: "Bert Massie has the passion, knowledge and experience to get the job done.
"Working in partnership, government and the third sector can do much more, particularly reaching the people who are most in need. I am determined that the Compact underpins all our dealings with the third sector and I am pleased that we now have the people, the money and a plan to make the state a better partner."
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