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This briefing is intended to assist the Public Administration Committee in considering options for work on the ‘third sector’ or voluntary and community sector.

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The sector and its relationship with government now comes within the Committee’s remit, following the transfer of policy responsibility from the Home Office to the newly created Office of the Third Sector in the Cabinet Office, in May 2006. The Office supports a new post of Minister for the Third Sector, currently occupied by Ed Miliband.

Part 1 of this briefing describes the changing role of the sector in recent years and the direction of government policy. The third sector has several roles in society and multiple relationships with government: as a recipient of funding and support services; a source of tax revenue; a subject of regulation; and a provider of public services.

There is a range of options for future Committee inquiries, described in Part 2 of this briefing. These options, and the considerations which might influence the Committee’s selection and sequencing of potential inquiries.


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