The Office of the Third Sector was created in May 2006, incorporating the
responsibilities of the Active Communities Directorate in the Home Office,
and the Social Enterprise Unit in the Department for Trade and Industry.
The decision to place the Office of the Third Sector 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
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 driven by their values and which principally
reinvest any financial surpluses to further social, environmental or
cultural objectives. It encompasses voluntary and community organisations,
charities, social enterprises, cooperatives and mutuals both large and
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
Strengthen communities, drawing together people from different sections
Transform public services, through delivery, design, innovation and
Enable social enterprise growth and development, combining business and
We deliver on our aims by:
Driving action to improve government and third sector partnership
working, such as promoting the Compact.
Funding programmes to support the sector's development, such as
Capacitybuilders and Futurebuilders.
Ensuring a good regulatory environment for the sector, such as the
implementation of the Charities Act 2006.
Developing the evidence base and analysis of the sector, in work such as
the Citizenship Survey, to better inform the work of the Government and