The Office of the Third Sector was created in May 2006 when the Active Communities Directorate in the Home Office, and the Social Enterprise Unit, in the Department for Trade and Industry (DTI), amalgamated. The decision to place the OTS at the centre of government in the Cabinet Office was taken in recognition of the increasingly important role the third sector plays in both society and the economy.
What is the third sector?
The third sector is a diverse, active and passionate sector. Organisations in the sector share the common characteristics of being non–governmental organisations which are value–driven and which principally reinvest their surpluses to further social, environmental or cultural objectives. It encompasses voluntary and community organisations, charities, social enterprises, cooperatives and mutuals both large and small.
A thriving third sector, enabling people to change society.
Our overarching aim is to:
- Develop an environment which enables the third sector to thrive, growing in its contribution to Britain's society, economy and environment.
Our thematic aims are to work in partnership with the sector to:
- Enable campaigning and empowerment, particularly for those at risk of social exclusion.
- Strengthen communities, drawing together people from different sections of society.
- Transform public services, through delivery, design, innovation and campaigning.
- Enable social enterprise growth and development, combining business and social goals.
We deliver on our aims by:
- Driving action to improve government and third sector partnership working and ensuring better terms of engagement, such as promoting the Compact.
- Funding programmes to support the sector's development, such as Capacitybuilders and Futurebuilders.
- Leading on the evidence base and analysis of the sector to better inform work of the government and third sector, such as the State of the Sector Panel and bespoke social enterprise research think pieces.
- Ensuring a good regulatory environment for the sector, such as the implementation of the Charities Act 2006.