Third sector minister Angela Smith "should put Gift Aid at top of her agenda"

Reaction to appointment of new minister for the third sector

New third sector minister Angela Smith has been urged to make tax-effective giving and the reform of Gift Aid her top priorities.

Smith succeeded Kevin Brennan yesterday in Prime Minister Gordon Brown's latest reshuffle.

"We hope Ms Smith will put tax-effective giving and Gift Aid reform at the top of her agenda," said John Low, chief executive of the Charities Aid Foundation. "This is particularly important now as charities see demand for their services increase in the face of recession."  

Angela Smith was introduced to the sector at the NCVO and the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Community and Voluntary Sector's annual afternoon tea at Westminster yesterday. She said: "The work you do in the sector is greater than yourselves. The role of the Government is to work with you to make the good society."

Stephen Bubb, chief executive of Acevo, described Smith's appointment, and the decision to upgrade her post from parliamentary secretary to minister of state, as "fantastic news for the third sector".

"Her appointment marks a promotion for the sector," said Bubb.

Angela Smith's arrival has also been welcomed by animal rights organisations: she is a former head of political and public relations at the League Against Cruel Sports and a supporter of the RSPCA.

A spokesman for the League Against Cruel Sports described her as "a prominent and active supporter of our cause" who had played a "key role" in the hunting ban.

An RSPCA spokeswoman said Smith did a lot of work behind the scenes and had campaigned against seal hunting and culling badgers. "She's passionate about charities, and as a campaigner herself she understands where they are coming from," she said.

Angela Smith is a patron and president of several Essex voluntary organisations, including Basildon Women's Aid. "She has always been incredibly caring, encouraging and supportive of our work," said Natasha Jean-Louis, children's services manager at the charity, of which Smith has been patron for six years. "She even attends and helps out at our children's parties and Christmas parties."

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