A new face in third sector crowd

The latest creation in government is to be run by its newest minister: the office of the third sector in the Cabinet Office will be headed by a 36 year-old who was elected to Parliament only a year ago.

But Ed Miliband, MP for Doncaster North and brother of David - also promoted last week, to environment secretary - has been in the back rooms of politics for most of his adult life, mainly as an adviser to Gordon Brown at the Treasury.

Miliband will be keeper of the new third sector shop front behind which the Government will gather together the various fragments of Whitehall that deal with voluntary sector policy.

He is a new face in the third sector crowd. After dealing with previous voluntary sector minister Paul Goggins and his boss Hazel Blears over the past year, voluntary bodies will be keen to know what this bright young thing offers.

He has been in the post less than a week, so it is difficult to predict how he will approach the sector. But with his past firmly rooted in economics, bodies such as Acevo and the Charities Tax Reform Group - which have been most unhappy with the sector's economic relationship with government - can at least know that Miliband speaks the same language.

An Oxford graduate in philosophy, politics and economics, he has quickly risen up the ranks at Westminster.

He started his political career in 1993 as a researcher for Harriet Harman MP. A year later, he was poached by the Treasury, where he spent the next eight years advising Gordon Brown, when he was shadow Chancellor and then the real thing. Miliband left Whitehall to lecture in government at Harvard University in 2002 before returning to the Treasury as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers two years later.

Miliband has other interests too. After being elected last year, he became chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Youth Affairs Group. Charities such as the National Council for Voluntary Youth Services and the YMCA - which provide administrative support to the group - will no doubt hope he continues to push the youth agenda in his new job. Arts charities will also find some comfort in the fact that Miliband is secretary to the All-Party Parliamentary British Museum Group.

With no experience of the voluntary sector, however, Miliband is a bit of a wild card. Perhaps he has inherited his positioning towards the sector from brother David, who in 1997 worked as a parliamentary officer at the NCVO.

But if the sector wanted revolution, Miliband might prove disappointing.

His voting history in Parliament shows a man eager to toe the party line.

He was raised in the school of Gordon Brown, so the sector could be in for a no-nonsense regime.

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