May 2012 - Press release

Research on the recession by the Third Sector Research Centre highlights the important role played by the sector’s infrastructure bodies together with partners in government.  The report suggests high levels of cooperation between sector representatives  and government in their response to a perceived ‘crisis’ for the sector in 2008.

A recession summit was organised, resulting in an Action Plan worth £42.5m. Securing funding from the Treasury in a financially testing time was seen as demonstrating government commitment, even if it was less than the sector had requested.

The report also highlights a lack of real time data on the health of third sector organisations.  As such, the sector’s representative bodies and government faced difficulties in demonstrating the impact of the recession and tailoring support to what the sector most needed. 
Research shows that  the recession has had a longer term impact. Cuts to public services have created a new ‘crisis’ for the sector. But it is playing out in a very different political context. A downsized OCS and less support for infrastructure may in the future reduce lines of communication between government and the sector. 

Rebecca Taylor, who undertook the research, said ‘the sector’s national infrastructure were able to form a partnership with the government to support  the sector in a time of need; the capacity building of previous years had, in that sense,  paid off. But relationships between the sector and government have changed. It will be interesting to see how the sector is able to influence government and mobilise support in the future in the context of this new landscape.

TSRC is offering a forum for strategic debate about the future of the sector. From September 2012 we will be holding a series of on and off-line dialogues around key issues affecting the sector, based on research evidence and experience of stakeholders. More information will be available soon.

The research paper ‘Crisis, mixed picture or phony war? Third sector discourse and the 2008/9 recession’ by Rebecca Taylor, Jane Parry and Pete Alcock is available here.

The research focused on the period from summer 2008 to winter 2009. It included media scoping, a literature review of impact reports and research outputs, and qualitative interviews with key informants from a diverse sample of organisations, including national third sector organisations; government departments or bodies, umbrella/infrastructure organisations, and ‘sector bodies’ such as funders, and trade unions.

For more information contact:
Naomi Landau, Knowledge Exchange Team: / 020 7520 2421

Dr Rebecca Taylor: