Third Sector Policy across the UK since 2000

Since the end of the last century the United Kingdom has been a less united country. Along with many areas of social and public policy, third sector policy has now been devolved to the separate administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. In 1999, a separate Scottish Executive (from 2007 the Scottish Government) and Welsh Assembly Government were established, followed later by a new Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly, based on a power sharing agreement known as the ‘Good Friday Agreement’.

Research in TSRC has focused on the impact of this devolution to expore the changing national context for policy and practice. We look at the extent to which devolution has led to a divergence in third sector policy across the UK.

This research has been supported by the advice of research Reference Groups in each of the devolved administrations comprised of leading academics, policy makers and practitioners.

Working paper 2: Devolution or Divergence?

For the first part of this period Labour administrations were in power in all four nations to some extent. This period also saw government engagement with and support for the sector extend far beyond the levels found throughout much of the last century. This led to a growth in the size and scale of the sector and closer involvement of sector representatives in political debate and policy planning.

These issues are explored in more depth by Pete Alcock in TSRC Working Paper 2 : Devolution or divergence? Third Sector Policy across the UK since 2000.

This has since been published separately as a contribution to a more general review of devolution policy and practice: Devolution in Practice, Lodge G and Schmuecker K (eds), (2010) London, IPPR.

Academic article - New Policy Spaces, Feb 2012

Elections in the devolved administrations led to a loosening of Labour control in 2007. This was followed by the establishment of the Coalition Government in the UK in 2010 and further elections in the devolved administrations in 2011, which resulted in different parties in power across all four administrations.

In new research, published in the Social Policy and Administration Journal, Pete Alcock explores these further changes to devolution since the 2010 and 2011 elections, including the extent to which the Big Society agenda has penetrated across new national borders.

Our research finds that devolution has created an important new space for third sector policy development across the UK, but that the direction of travel in all four regimes has remained remarkably similar.

Professor Pete Alcock