Short - but sweet?

The verdict on Kevin Brennan's eight-month tenure as third sector minister

Kevin Brennan
Kevin Brennan

The brevity of Kevin Brennan's eight-month tenure as minister for the third sector - he was in the job for a shorter time than any of the other nine ministers since Labour came to power - was a disappointment for some senior voluntary sector figures.

Debra Allcock Tyler, chief executive of the Directory of Social Change, said: "Kevin wasn't around long enough to make any impact. Charities ministers never are."

Mike Locke, director of public affairs at Volunteering England, said: "It means that on critical and complex issues we have to lay out the evidence and analysis all over again. All that takes time and organisation. But it is the real world we work in."

Stephen Bubb, head of chief executives body Acevo, said the turnover of ministers at the Office of the Third Sector was no higher than in other departments and had the positive effect of increasing the number of ministers who were well briefed on sector issues.

He said the sector would benefit from the promotion of Liam Byrne, who was in overall charge of third sector affairs as Minister for the Cabinet Office, to Chief Secretary of the Treasury. "We are spreading true believers around Whitehall," he said.

Brennan, who is now a junior minister in Lord Mandelson's new Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, received mixed reviews on his performance. Stuart Etherington, chief executive of the NCVO, said he had played a crucial role in coordinating the Government's £40.5m recession action plan, announced in February.

Kevin Curley, chief executive of local umbrella body Navca, also praised Brennan for the plan, which he said had made an important impact at local level. "We give him high marks for the serious interest he took in local infrastructure," he said.

Bubb said the action plan was disappointing, but Brennan had done well to overcome Treasury resistance to giving the sector any extra funding at all. He said most of Brennan's task had been to carry on the work of previous third sector ministers Phil Hope and Ed Miliband.

Locke added that Brennan had failed to solve the problem of how central government could convince local authorities to fund local volunteer centres.

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