The new guidance will say that authorities should seek to avoid passing on disproportionate cuts to the voluntary sector, give at least three months notice if they are intending to end or reduce funding to a community organisation and allow groups to put forward their own suggestions for how to reshape a service.
Pickles is delivering on the threat he made in March to use statutory force "to make sure that voluntary groups are getting a fair crack at the whip".
The new guidance will reiterate the duty imposed by the Local Government Act 1999 to consult a wide range of local persons, including local voluntary and community organisations and businesses in deciding how to secure continuous improvement to the way it fulfils its functions. The current guidance includes a more wide-ranging statutory "Duty to Involve".
The consultation period will be three weeks short of the standard 12 weeks, ending 14 June 2011. This is justified by the need for "swift action in light of near-term local budgetary decisions".
"I'm offering a social responsibility deal for town halls: I'm tearing up the unreasonable Whitehall red tape that costs them money and wastes their time. In return, local councils should treat local community groups with the full respect they deserve.Whilst the move has generally been welcomed by the voluntary sector, some commentators, such as Professor of Public Policy and Management at Manchester Business School Colin Talbot, argue that it is a mistake to revoke the Duty to Involve, and contrary to the Government’s stated aim to stimulate a culture of citizen participation.
"I'm not asking councils to do anything that I wouldn't do myself, so all central government departments are also signing up to these fair new standards."