Charities are pressuring the government to reinstate an employment charity that was kicked off an advisory board in a row about critical tweets.
Third Sector revealed last month that the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy removed Maternity Action from its pregnancy and maternity discrimination advisory board earlier after the charity’s chief executive tweeted that the board’s narrow scope was “disappointing”.
The Fawcett Society and Working Families, which both sit on the board, told Third Sector that Maternity Action was a “valuable” part of the group and urged BEIS to resolve the issue.
A third charity on the group, Pregnant Then Screwed, said it would raise the matter with BEIS officials.
BEIS did not respond to emails asking whether it would reverse its decision.
The Fawcett Society’s intervention comes after the decision was also criticised by the Labour Party.
Barbara Keeley, the shadow minister for arts and civil society, last week accused the government of “pursuing a vendetta” against Maternity Action boss Ros Bragg .
After the board’s first meeting in September, Bragg tweeted that she was disappointed the board would not be looking at a broader range of issues, given that the government had initially promised to create a “task force” that would examine all laws and rules affecting pregnant women.
Government officials then referred to this tweet when telling Bragg that the group would “press ahead” without her charity, according to documents seen by Third Sector.
Maternity Action says the government was aware of its views when it was appointed to sit on the board.
The board is supposed to meet four times a year, but has still only met once.
Jemima Olchawski, chief executive of the Fawcett Society, said: “Maternity Action has invaluable experience and expertise, and we'd be keen to see this brought back to the advisory group.
“Pregnancy and maternity discrimination are serious issues that need to be tackled and the best way to do this is to ensure expert voices are heard and lived experiences are shared.
“We will remain on the advisory group to represent women and we hope it will bring about meaningful change for pregnant women and new mothers.”
Jane van Zyl, chief executive of Working Families, said: “Maternity Action is a valuable voice on the advisory board and it would be a shame to lose their wealth of knowledge and expertise on the important issues surrounding pregnancy and maternity discrimination.
“We sincerely hope that Maternity Action and BEIS can find a way to resolve this issue.”
Joeli Brearley, chief executive of Pregnant Then Screwed, said: “We have been in touch with Maternity Action about this and we will be raising it with BEIS at the next advisory board meeting.‘’