This report, aimed at the public sector, summarises the main conclusions drawn from two inter-related projects with public sector bodies that were undertaken between 2015 and 2017 in North East England. The purpose of these projects, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, was to explore the dynamics of relationships between the public sector (local government and health authorities) and the third sector. The principal focus has been to explore how public-sector ‘narratives’ about the strengths and weaknesses of the third sector translate into strategic planning, collaborative working and financial investment in the third sector.
Research evidence shows that, for the most part, relationships between the public sector and third sector are generally good in North East England. But the efficacy of collaborative working can be undermined, to some extent, when members of the public sector and third sector do not share the same understanding about their organisational values and respective strengths and contributions.
The work focused on six key areas of sector interaction, which emerged as the project developed:
- Outsourcing public sector services
- Assessing the impact of interventions
- Partnership working and co-production
- Hearing the voices of the third sector
- Volunteering and building the civic core
- Building capacity in the third sector
The programme of work was not a research project. Instead, its purpose was to achieve positive impact on inter-sector relationships by drawing upon existing and emerging research evidence undertaken by the authors to test hypotheses and inform debate about how to build, secure and sustain positive relationships.