Is the third sector being overwhelmed by the state and the market?

Is the third sector being overwhelmed by the stae and the market?

Our fourth debate looks at how the sector is shaped by its varied and changing relationships with the state, and perhaps increasingly by its relationships with the market. Is the sector’s ‘partnership’ model with the state is being recast as new models of public service delivery are developed, and how is the third sector positioned to take advantage of emerging opportunities? This may involve new hybrid relationships with commercial enterprises and trading/social enterprise.

We ask how funding and business models in the third sector are changing, and debate what marketisation means for the sector’s future.


NEW: TSRC discussion paper


Live Q&A, Guardian Voluntary Sector Network: Changing relationships – the voluntary sector, the state and businesses, 22 January 2013, 1 – 3pm

London seminar:18 January 2013, 11.30am – 1pm sign up here

Sounding Board meeting:  7 March 2013

This discussion is closed. See outcomes from the discussion and Sounding Board meeting.  


  1. Angus McCabe says:

    Well, This Futures Dialogue seems to have generated a lot of debate – Guardian Q&A and the Minister on Twitter! Hopefully what this does is move things on from statements about ‘the sector’ as if it were a single, cohesive, entity to a more sophisticated discussion on its diversity in terms of values, functions and organisation.

    Might be interesting to turn the ‘dependency’ argument on its head and ask – has the State become too dependent on the vagaries of the market and the vulnerabilities (in a recession) of the private sector for the dilivery of a wide range of public service?

  2. Sue Livett says:

    Suggestions from local authority that earned income from social enterprises should be paid over to local authority as it is their funding which has funded some of the core costs – where does that leave us

    • Without knowing the specifics, it probably leaves you in the same place as many enterprises discussing how to give their funders a return on investment. There is no reason, legal details aside, why a local authority should not choose to invest in a social enterprise and expect a financial and/or social return. Clearly that can’t be an afterthought and would have to be negotiated as part of the funding agreement. It certainly can’t be done just because a local authority has had a tough settlement and wants to share out the misery. For now the the legal complexities will probably put local authorities off of doing this, but if local authorities do become more about enabling than providing, I would not be surprised to see deals like this become more common.