New partnerships for public services: Can collaboration between private and social enterprise deliver?

The third sector makes a significant contribution to society, employing 650,000 people, and contributing nearly —9 billion a year to the UK economy with social enterprises alone. The sector has evolved at a rapid rate, assisted over the last decade by a determined push from Whitehall to create a more mixed economy for public service delivery.

We commissioned this independent survey as part of our work on the smarter state in order to understand how to maximise the positive impact of the third sector on public service delivery and to examine the views towards partnerships between the sectors as one route to delivery of this agenda.

The research findings demonstrate that both sectors broadly support partnerships, even though the third sector is consistently more ambivalent. Both sectors say there is a need to focus on how to make the partnerships themselves work most effectively - that the key to collaborative working is to invest time and energy in building mutual understanding, developing shared goals and effective ways of working together. At the heart of the debate is how social and private enterprise can best work together to deliver better public sector social outcomes.