Independence of Merton CIL upheld in Compact Complaint

Merton CIL welcomes the findings of the Compact Board which has upheld our right to raise issues at Scrutiny. This outcome reaffirms the independent position of Merton CIL, and of our colleagues in the wider voluntary sector. It reinforces our right to raise issues of concern with Merton Council, regardless of any funding arrangements in place.

At a Council Scrutiny meeting in November, Merton CIL’s CEO, Lyla Adwan-Kamara asked why another £2 million was being cut from the Adult Social Care budget and highlighted the experiences of two local Disabled people facing issues with their social care support. Following the meeting, Council representatives wrote to Merton CIL saying that issues shouldn’t be raised in Scrutiny without checking with senior officers first. Merton CIL felt that this request was a breach of the Compact between the voluntary and public sector, in particular the principle to ‘respect the independence of the voluntary sector’.

After Merton CIL’s right to raise issues was upheld by the Compact Board, we spoke to one of the service users whose story we had told in November. Mr Jones (not his real name) said “when I heard that Merton CIL were told off for telling my story I felt like they were being gagged. I was let down by the Council and it was wrong to gag Merton CIL. Organisations have a legitimate right to bring the concerns of citizens to the Council and people like me who are least able to defend themselves need the representation from Merton CIL. I’m so glad the gag has been taken off now.”

We also spoke to some of our members about our complaint outcome and one of them told us “as a member I’m glad Merton CIL has stayed true to its ethos to speak out against injustice. I feel that the agenda to shut down dissenting voices has failed and this is a victory for accountability and knowing that formal processes can be used successfully. I know that in the future if I need someone to stand alongside me to fight injustice, then Merton CIL will be right there beside me.”

Moving forward we hope that Merton Council will implement the recommendations of the Compact Board, which include working with Merton CIL to embed the needs and voices of Deaf and Disabled people into Council systems, processes and strategies.