Former Tory MP Peter Ainsworth is new Big Lottery Fund chair

Cabinet Office also appoints Nat Sloane, co-founder and vice-chair of the Impetus Trust, as chair of the BLF's England Committee

Peter Ainsworth [Photo by Phil Weedon]
Peter Ainsworth [Photo by Phil Weedon]

A former Conservative MP has been appointed as the new chair of the Big Lottery Fund.

Peter Ainsworth, who was the Tory MP for East Surrey between 1992 and 2010, will take on the role for four years from 1 June, the Cabinet Office has announced.

The department has also appointed Nat Sloane, the co-founder and vice-chair of the Impetus Trust, as chair of the BLF's England Committee.

Ainsworth is a founder member of the consultancy the Robertsbridge Group and chair of the charities Plantlife International and the Elgar Foundation.

He held several minor roles in John Major's government between 1992 and 1997, including that of parliamentary private secretary to the disgraced former minister Jonathan Aitken. He also worked as shadow environment secretary and shadow culture secretary while the Conservatives were in opposition.

Ainsworth will be paid £21,600 a year for the job, which is expected to take up an average of six days a month.

He replaces Sir Clive Booth, who completed his term last year. Booth apologised to the Conservative Party in 2008 after he accused it of being "hostile to the voluntary sector" and said he thought it needed a "seminar in elementary arithmetic".

The Cabinet Office said the appointment was made in accordance with the Code of Practice for Ministerial Appointments to Public Bodies. "All appointments are made on merit and political activity plays no part in the selection process," it said.

Sloane, who replaces Sanjay Dighe as chair of the BLF's England Committee, is a member of the Bridges Social Enterprise Fund's Investment Committee and the advisory board for the Social Finance Social Impact Bond.

He has also been appointed for a four-year term, starting on 1 June. He will be paid between £18,000 and £24,000 a year for between six and eight days per month.

In a statement, Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office, said: "It's vital that every penny of the annual £600m or so of funding for good causes is used for the greatest impact. The wealth of knowledge and experience Peter and Nat bring will help greatly in meeting this challenge."

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