The Office of the Third Sector

We take a quick look at the branch of government that supports the UK's social enterprises

The Office of the Third Sector is a branch of the government’s Cabinet Office, and looks after voluntary and community groups, social enterprises, charities, cooperatives and mutuals.

The Office was created in May 2006 and combined the responsibilities of the Active Communities Directorate within the Home Office, and the Social Enterprise Unit of the former DTI, now referred to as the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).

The Office works in partnership with both central and local government with a view 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.

According to the Office this is achieved by:

  • Driving cross-government action to improve partnership working and ensuring better terms of engagement between government and the third sector
  • Investment in programmes to support the sector’s development and promotion
  • Ensuring a good policy and regulatory environment for the sector
  • Developing a strong evidence base and analysis to better inform the work of the government and third sector

The Office also provides the UK with the only dedicated Third Sector minister – currently Angela Smith.

For more on the Office of the Third Sector click here.

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