New Policy Spaces: The Impact of Devolution on Third Sector Policy in the UK

Peter Alcock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

26 Citations (Scopus)


The development of third sector policy in the UK since 1997 has seen changes which have been of significance both for analysts and practitioners. This period has seen government engagement with and support for the sector extend far beyond the levels found throughout much of the last century. This has led to a growth in the size and scale of the sector and a closer involvement of sector representatives in political debate and policy planning. These changes have taken place at the same time as third sector policy has been devolved to the new administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. This article explores the impact of devolution on these policy developments and assesses the extent to which political devolution has led to policy divergence across the four countries in the UK. The conclusion is reached that policy devolution has created important new space for policy development for the third sector across the UK, but that the direction of travel in all four regimes has remained remarkably similar.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)219-238
Number of pages20
JournalSocial Policy and Administration
Issue number2
Early online date7 Feb 2012
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2012


  • Social enterprise
  • Third sector
  • Policy
  • Voluntary and community
  • Devolution


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