Mapping and evaluating third sector provision of public services

There is currently a lack of detailed empirical evidence on the scale and effectiveness of the third sector’s involvement in service provision. We propose two projects that will address this gap.

Mapping the third sector (Helen Simpson, Sarah Smith)

This research will use the newly available ONS Business Structure Database (BSD) to provide a picture of not-for-profit organisations throughout the economy, including, where they are located, what industrial sectors they are active in, how many people they employ, and the extent of ownership changes between the private, third and public sectors. A key strength of the BSD is that is that it allows us to understand the behavior of not-for-profit organisations over time (for example, the life-cycle of TSOs, and how they grow and evolve) and compared to private and public sector organisations. We will complement analysis of the BSD with more detailed data on employees from the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings, the Labour Force Survey and the British Household Panel Survey, all of which collect information on sector of employment.

Public and third sector performance (Carol Propper, Helen Simpson)

Following US research on competing providers in healthcare and UK work on social care this research will examine the effect of ownership type (for-profit, not-for-profit, government) on competition and performance in particular service markets, focusing on those where there is a diverse range of service provision, as for example in healthcare. We will use ONS Annual Business Inquiry data, supplemented where possible with ‘activity’ and ‘outcome’ measures, to compare the characteristics and performance of private, public and third sector organisations operating in the same industries. This will enable us both to measure and to understand differences in performance.