Government, the Third Sector and the Contract Culture: The UK Experience so far

  • Marilyn Taylor
Part of the Nonprofit and Civil Society Studies book series (NCSS)


The language of ‘contracts’ and of the ‘contract culture’ is one which has a resonance for third sector organizations2 in many parts of the world, as markets or quasi-markets come to dominate the provision of welfare. But it is important to recognize that it can mean different things. Building on Lyons (1997), there are three main trends associated with the use of the term:
  • increased government support for third sector organizations (with implications for increased state control);

  • the transfer of services formerly provided by the state to third sector organizations;

  • a change in the terms and conditions under which government funding is provided to third sector organizations.


Local Government Local Authority Service User Social Care Residential Care 
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  1. 2.
    In the UK, the term generally used for the third sector is the ‘voluntary’ sector and these terms will be used interchangeably throughout this paper.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Local government in the UK does not have constitutional independence and is very much the ‘creature’ of central government in the UK compared to many other European countries (Batley and Stoker, 1991; Taylor and Bassi, 1996).Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    Health authorities in the UK are separate from local authorities. Their governing body is appointed, not elected and they are part of the National Health Service. The line between social care and health is by no means easy to draw and, although joint care planning and commissioning require the two bodies to work together, there have been considerable tensions between the two bodies.Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    This was to have been phased out after the first three years, but has been extended every year for the following three years.Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    Until 1994, there were more than 20 different sources of central government funding for regeneration. In 1994, these were pulled together into a Single Regeneration Budget Challenge Fund, with an annual bidding round. While there was no new money attached, this has made funding for regeneration more accessible in principle, although the required outcomes still emphasize jobs and training opportunities rather than social regeneration. In 2002, responsibility for this funding has been transferred to Regional Development Agencies, but some new funding for neighbourhood renewal is available in the Neighbourhood Renewal and Community Empowerment Funds administered by the new Neighbourhood Renewal Unit in the Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions.Google Scholar
  6. 7.
    DiMaggio and Powell (1983) coined the term institutional isomorphism to describe the tendency for organizations in the same field to develop similar characteristics. They distinguished three kinds of isomorphism: coercive (enforced), mimetic (imitating successful organizations), and normative (where particular norms become hegemonic and organizations adhere to them because ‘that is the way things are done’.Google Scholar
  7. 8.
    The Royal Commission on Long Term Care, which reported in March 1999, suggests that responsibility for provision should be shared between the state and individuals, with individuals responsible for living costs and housing and the state responsible for ‘personal care’. However, in England and Wales, the state has only accepted responsibility for nursing care. Only in Scotland, does it also accept responsibility for personal care.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marilyn Taylor
    • 1
  1. 1.Health and Social Policy Research CentreUniversity of BrightonFalmerUK

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