ePapers Repository

From crisis to mixed picture to phoney war: tracing third sector discourse in the 2008/9 recession

Taylor, Rebecca and Parry, Jane and Alcock, Pete (2012) From crisis to mixed picture to phoney war: tracing third sector discourse in the 2008/9 recession. Project Report. University of Birmingham, Birmingham.


URL of Published Version: http://tsrc.ac.uk/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=AXb9tggJp5Y%3d&tabid=500


The recession of 2008/09 threatened a crisis for the third sector and its beneficiaries. Amidst mounting concern for the sector’s future, national and horizontal infrastructure and government worked together to minimise potential impacts. This research report, based on media scoping, literature review and key informant interviews, seeks to explore the evolving third sector policy environment and the discourses and relationships that animated it during this period. It outlines the shift from the initial rhetoric of crisis to a ‘mixed picture’ discourse which accommodated a lack of evidence for substantial impacts while providing the basis for continued infrastructure/government support. Exploring the diversity of sector interests highlighted by responses to the OTS’ third sector action plan, Real Help for Communities, suggests the continued importance of vertical and local channels of communication with and support from government for groups within the sector. Finally it traces how sector leaders talked about the recession having lagged effects or being a phoney war. They looked with trepidation to the ‘real crisis’ predicted to hit the sector in 2010/11: a period of financial uncertainty brought about by the convergence of the spending review, the end of several large public sector contracts and the impending general election.

Type of Work:Monograph (Project Report)
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
Department:Third Sector Research Centre

6, P. and Leat, D. (1997) Inventing the British Voluntary sector by Committee: from Wolfenden to Deakin, Non-Profit Studies, 1 (2): 34-45.
Alcock, P. (2010a) ‘Building the Big Society: A New Policy Environment for the Third Sector’, Voluntary Sector Review, 1 (3): 379-389.
Alcock, P. (2010b) ‘A Strategic Unity: Defining the Third Sector in the UK’, Voluntary Sector Review, 1 (1): 5-24.
Alcock, P. (2011) ‘Voluntary action, New Labour and the ‘third sector’, in M. Hilton and J. McKay (eds), The Ages of Voluntarism: How we got to the Big Society, Oxford: Oxford University Press/British Academy.
Alcock, P. and Kendal, J. (2011) Constituting the third sector: processes of decontestation and contention under the UK Labour governments in England, Voluntas: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations, 22 (3): 450-469.
Breeze, B. And Morgan, G. G. (2009) Philanthropy in a recession: an analysis of UK media representations and implications for charitable giving, paper presented at NCVO/VSSN Researching the voluntary sector conference September 2009.
Carr, H. (2009) Tracking the Impact of the Economic Downturn: A View from the Charity Commission, paper presented at VSSN/NCVO Researching the Voluntary Sector Conference, September 2009.
Davies, S. Government policy, recession and the voluntary sector: a report for Unison, London: Unison.
Fairclough (1992) Discourse and social change, Cambridge: Polity Press.
Gamble, A. (2009) The Spectre at the Feast: Capitalist Crisis and the Politics of Recession, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Harrow, J. and Pharoah, C. (2008) Recession and charities; the paradox of charitable opportunity? London: Centre for Charitable Giving and Philanthropy, CASS.
Kendall, J. (2003) The Voluntary Sector, London: Routledge.
Kendall, J. (2009) ‘The third sector and the policy process in the UK: ingredients in a hyperactive horizontal policy environment’, in J. Kendall (ed.) Handbook of Third Sector Policy in Europe: Multi-level Processes and Organised Civil Society, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.
Lewis, J. (1999) ‘Reviewing the Relationship between the Voluntary Sector and the State in Britain in the 1990’s’, Voluntas: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations, 10 (3) 255-70.
Macmillan, R. (2010) The third sector delivering public services: an evidence review, Birmingham: TSRC Working Paper 20.
Mohan, J. and Wilding, K. (2009) Economic downturns and the voluntary sector: What can we learn from historical evidence?, London: History and Policy, www.historyandpolicy.org/papers/policy-paper-85.html.
Moro, D. and McKay, S. (2010) The growing workforce in the voluntary and community sectors: analysis of the Labour Force Survey, 1993-2009, Birmingham: TSRC Briefing Paper 28.
Parry, J. Alcock, P. and Kendall, J. (2010) Opportunity and influence; the third sector and the 2010 general election, Birmingham: TSRC working paper 44.
Pharoah, C. (ed) (2008), Charity Market Monitor, Volume One: Fundraisers, London: Caritasdata and Cass Business School.
Prizeman, G. and McGee, S. (2009) ‘When the going gets tough - how Irish charities are responding to the economic downturn’, paper presented at NCVO/VSSN Researching the voluntary sector conference September 2009.
Roper, J., Ganesh, S. and Inkson, K. (2010) Neoliberalism and knowledge interests in boundaryless careers discourse, Work, Employment and Society 24 (4) 661-679.
Taylor-Gooby, P. (1994) Charities in recession: Hard times for the weakest? In S. Saxon-Harrold and J. Kendall (eds) Researching the voluntary sector, Second Edition, Tonbridge and London: Charities aid foundation, pp. 101 – 112.
Wilding, K. (2010) Voluntary organisations and the recession, Voluntary Sector Review, 1 (1): 97-101.

Sector outputs - strategy documents, consultation responses, guidance, evidence reviews
BrAVA Barnard, H. (2009) Community Crunch in Brent: impact of the recession on the voluntary and community sector in Brent, London: BrAVA.
CAF/NCVO (2009) UK Giving 2009 An overview of charitable giving in the UK, 2008/09, Kent and London: Charities Aid Foundation and NCVO.
CCPR (2009) Running on Empty? Sport in a recession, CCPR's national conference May 2009.
CLG (2011) Citizenship survey (2009-10) Community action in England: A report on the 2009-10 Citizenship survey, London: CLG.
Community Sector Coalition (2009a) After the money has gone. A manifesto from the Community Sector Coalition.
Community Sector Coalition (2009b) What the recession means to us? Issues and solutions, Autumn 2009- based on notes of discussion at the CSC Members meeting (17/09/09) CSC Report.
GMCVO Issues 17 (Jan/Feb 2009) Riding the recession, Manchester: GMCVO.
Grant Thornton (2010) Modernisation Fund Grants Programme delivered by Capacitybuilders Phase One Delivery Review.
IVR (2010) Volunteering in the recession: Outline report for the Recession Summit, January 2010.
London Funders (2009) The recession: we’re all in it together, Report on cross-sector event, Mercers Hall London 11 Feb 2009.
LVSC (2009) The Big Squeeze: We’re (still) in it together: The recession, Londoners and the Voluntary and Community groups who serve them, London: LVSC.
MiNet (ROTA) (2009) The economic downturn and the black Asian and minority ethinic (BAME) third sector: An evidence based report looking at challenges and responses to the recession by London’s BAME and equality third sector, Minet, Rota and HEAR.
NAVCA (2009) Crunch Time: A report on third sector local resilience action planning activities across England, Sheffield: NAVCA.
NAVCA Curley (2008) The Third Sector and the current economic climate – NAVCA response.
NCVO (2009a) The UK civil society almanac 2009, London: NCVO.
NCVO (2009b) Support in Uncertain times: Principals for managing the recession February 2009 (with CFDG, Citizens Advice, NAVCA, Community Matters, Volunteering England, SCVO, ACEVO, CTG, and IOF).
NCVO (2009c) Initial reaction to the budget, NCVO April 2009.
NCVO Blackmore (2008) Response to the OTS consultation on the economic downturn: Proposals for an Action plan to support the voluntary and community sector, NCVO.
NCVO Carrington (2009) Funding our future challenges and opportunities in the next decade, NCVO.
NCVO Kerningham (2009) Draft proposals for actions that voluntary and community organisations and social enterprises should take themselves in response to the recession, NCVO.
NCVO/LGA (2010) Backing communities: local solutions councils and voluntary and community organisations supporting people through the recession, NCVO
NCVO Megan Griffith Gray (2009/10) Third Sector Foresight Surviving in a changing Environment: NCVO members briefing.
NCVO Wilding (2008) Economic downturns and the voluntary and community sector: A short review of the evidence, London: NCVO, www.ncvo-vol.org.uk/uploadedFiles/
NCVO Wilding (2010) Blog post, Researching the recession: so what do we know? Submitted by Karl Wilding 23rd January 2010.
NCVO Wilding and Mohan (2009) The emerging impact of the recession on the voluntary and community sector: a review of recent surveys and evidence NCVO/OTS recession summit June 2009.
PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC), the Charity Finance Directors’ Group (CFDG) and the Institute of Fundraising (IOF) (2008) Managing in a Downturn: November 2008 survey results, analysis and key messages.
Social Enterprise Coalition (2009) State of Social Enterprise Survey 2009 SEC.
Unite (2009) Recession Charter Not for Profit sector, Unite the Union.
Voluntary Organisations’ Network North East (VONNE) (2009) Surviving not thriving: the impact of the recession on the third sector in the North East of England, VONNE.

Government bodies - White papers, policy/strategy documents, reviews/research reports
Charity Commission (2009) Charities and the economic downturn, Charity Commission September 2009.
Charity Commission (2009) The economic downturn: 15 questions charities need to ask, The Charity Commission.
HM Government (2009) Real Help for Communities: Volunteers, Charities and Social Enterprises, Office for the Third Sector, Cabinet Office.
HM Treasury and the Cabinet Office (2007) The future role of the third sector in social and economic regeneration: final report, July 2007.
Third Sector Recession Action Plan, Oral Answers to Questions — Cabinet Office House of Commons debates, 9 December 2009, 11:30 a.m.

Date:01 May 2012
Series/Collection Name:TSRC Research Report
Keywords:Third sector, voluntary sector, government, OTS, recession, downturn, economic crisis, infrastructure, policy, discourse
Subjects:H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Related URLs:
Funders:Economic and Social Research Council, Office for Civil Society, Barrow Cadbury Trust
Copyright Holders:Third Sector Research Centre
ID Code:1780

Export Reference As : ASCII + BibTeX + Dublin Core + EndNote + HTML + METS + MODS + OpenURL Object + Reference Manager + Refer + RefWorks
Share this item :
QR Code for this page

Repository Staff Only: item control page