Delight and disappointment as Brennan replaces Hope

Tories claim appointment means voluntary sector is 'demoted'.

Disappointment at the loss of Phil Hope as Minister for the Third Sector has been balanced by optimism among sector leaders that Kevin Brennan, MP for Cardiff West, will be an effective replacement.

Hope was promoted to Minister of State at the Department of Health after the weekend's reshuffle, with Brennan moving over from his junior ministerial job in the Department for Children, Schools and Families (Third Sector Online, 6 October).

The replacement of Hope's boss Ed Miliband by Liam Byrne as Minister for the Cabinet Office was interpreted by the Conservatives as a "demotion" for the voluntary sector.

Hours before being reshuffled himself (see panel), shadow charities minister Greg Clark said: "Unlike his predecessor, Ed Miliband, Liam Byrne is not a member of the Cabinet. In effect, Gordon Brown has demoted the voluntary sector."

Kevin Curley, chief executive of local umbrella body Navca, said: "I cannot disguise our disappointment. Phil Hope has been a superb minister for the sector. He stayed in the job longer than his predecessors, and we had hoped he wouldn't be shifted."

Stephen Bubb, head of chief executives body Acevo, said: "I know he has a passionate interest in the sector and realises our potential in terms of transforming public services and standing up for the most vulnerable," he said.

"The next few years will be tough and we need Kevin to stand up for the sector."

Graham Benfield, chief executive of the Welsh Council for Voluntary Action, said he was delighted: "He is a Cardiff MP and has worked closely over the years with the assembly's First Minister, Rhodri Morgan, who has given a great deal of support to voluntary and community organisations.

"As a Cardiff City councillor and as chair of the finance committee, he has been involved in the distribution of money to a wide range of voluntary organisations."

Ben Hughes, chief executive of local umbrella body Bassac, said he hoped third sector policies would not change: "We wouldn't want to jeopardise the momentum that has been built up."

A spokesman for the Office of the Third Sector said: "The OTS is based in the Cabinet Office because creating the environment for a thriving third sector is a priority for the Prime Minister. This has not changed.

... AND CLARK GOES TOO

Nick Hurd is the new shadow minister for charities. The Tory MP for Ruislip-Northwood replaces Greg Clark, who is now shadow energy and climate change secretary.

Hurd, son of the former Tory cabinet minister Lord Douglas Hurd, has specialised in environmental issues since entering Parliament in 2005.

Clark became shadow charities minister in November 2006. His tenure was marked by criticism of the Compact, the Office of the Third Sector and the recent relaxation of rules on charity campaigning.

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