Here is a brief summary about some of the factors that make up the third sector. This serves to demonstrate the size, diversity and complexity of the sector.
There are estimated to be 865,000 civil society organisations with an income of £109 billion in the UK. The voluntary and not for profit sector employs some 608,000 people and has an annual turnover of approximately £39 billion. Both the voluntary and community sectors have 190,000 registered charities and another estimated 100,000 other regulated charitable organisations. Over 55,000 social enterprises have been established in the UK with a combined income of £27 billion. The total value of Housing Association sector’s assets stands at £94.6 billion and some £120 billion public investment has been made in housing.
Over the past few years there has been an ever increasing responsibility on trustees and boards to ensure a robust system of self governance. In 2005, the Statement of Recommended Practice stressed the importance of effective trustee training and induction. The following year, the Charity Act 2006 placed a renewed emphasis on governance and the Companies Act 2006 made provisions for amendments to governing documents. Overall, parties foresee an increase in the role on the third sector to deliver the services demanded by our wider communities. Civil society is regarded by most as the way communities will work together to address the problems that state intervention cannot.
Good governance is high on the agenda in all sectors – public, private and voluntary. As voluntary and community organisations working for public benefit, we are increasingly expected to demonstrate how well we are governed. Good governance is a vital part of how voluntary and community organisations operate and are held accountable.