The third sector policy environment in England: Partnership or take-over?
Alcock, Pete (2009)

by Professor Pete Alcock

The last ten years has seen a step change in the scale and reach of government policy initiative and intervention for the third sector in England. This has led to significant changes from the less interventionist regime of the previous decades, but also to increasingly significant differences from the distinctive regimes emerging under the devolved powers in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. Central to the new regime in England has been the creation of the Office of the Third Sector (OTS) with an increased budget, a strategic location in the Cabinet Office and a remit to extend policy across the full range of third sector action. The paper will examine briefly they key policy programmes developed by government and now overseen by OTS and their implications for the sector, drawing on Kendall’s distinction between horizontal and vertical dimensions of intervention. This will be set within the context of a broader review of the policy environment in England, and in particular the focus on the role of third sector organisations (TSOs) in public policy delivery. Underpinning much of this changed climate is a model of partnership between the third sector and the state which may create threats to the independence and autonomy of many TSOs, and may be resulting in a peculiarly English model of third sector support which the other devolved administrations are challenged to follow. The paper concludes by exploring how these evolving policy climates may be included within a research agenda for the four countries within the UK.

Pete’s presentation is available here (Powerpoint format).

Presented at