The regional distribution of employees in the third sector in England: estimates from the National Survey of Third Sector Organisations (NSTSO)

Working paper 80

There is considerable policy and academic interest in the contribution made by the third sector to paid work, and in the distribution of third sector employment across geographical areas.  In this paper we present estimates of the number and distribution of employees in third sector organisations in England.

The figures shown here appear to be larger than those derived from other sources, such as the Labour Force Survey (LFS), and this paper considers why this might be the case. They estimate that there were more than 1.1 million full time equivalent employees in England in 2008, or just over 5% of the workforce.

Previous studies have estimated the workforce in the voluntary sector using information derived from surveys of individuals, but this paper is the first to use reliable survey data taken from organisations. The research uses data from that National Survey of Third Sector Organisations (NSTSO 2008).

The paper also estimates regional shares of third sector employment, and the contribution of the third sector to total employment in each region. London has at least a quarter of all third sector employment in England, followed by the South East with 17%. This allows us to raise questions for debate concerning whether or not there is scope for a redistribution of third sector employment between regions.

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John Mohan and Frida Geyne-Rajme