Government urged to restore a stand-alone charities minister after Crouch resignation

Tracey Crouch resigned as Minister for Sport and Civil Society yesterday, and now sector figures are calling for the brief to be separated out once more

Parliament: Crouch resigned her brief yesterday
Parliament: Crouch resigned her brief yesterday

The government has been urged to separate out the ministerial brief for charities after the resignation of Tracey Crouch.

Crouch stood down as Minister for Sport and Civil Society yesterday in protest at what she said was a delay to the introduction of changes to the maximum allowable stake on fixed-odds betting terminals.

The MP for Chatham and Aylesford had been given responsibility for charities in June last year in addition to her existing duties as sports minister.

It was the first time a government had not had a minister focusing primarily on the voluntary sector since Labour’s Ed Miliband was given the role as part of the newly created Office of the Third Sector in 2006.

Crouch was also asked in January to lead the government’s work on loneliness.

Sector figures paid tribute to Crouch’s principled stand and her time as charities minister but called on the government to separate out the brief once more.

Vicky Browning, chief executive of the charity leaders body Acevo, said Crouch had been a "passionate and committed civil society minister".

She said: "While the circumstances are not ideal, there is now an opportunity for the secretary of state to allocate the sports and civil society briefs to different ministers.

"Tracey Crouch had the mindset we need in a minister, but she did not have the time needed to achieve the vision she laid out. It is unrealistic to expect one person to hold briefs for charity, social enterprise, sport, gambling, lotteries and loneliness.

"We ask that Jeremy Wright demonstrate his commitment to civil society by appointing a minister who is able to make the Civil Society Strategy a reality."

Matt Hyde, chief executive of the Scouts, said on Twitter that Crouch had been a "terrific minister", but added: "Now is the opportunity to split out the huge portfolio she had and (re)create a dedicated ministerial post for civil society."

Jessica Taplin, chief executive of the youth volunteering charity vinspired, said on Twitter that the sector should have a dedicated minister.

The Labour Party has kept the shadow sport and civil society briefs separate and Steve Reed, the shadow charities minister, said the government should copy Labour’s model because they were "two very different and important portfolios".

Dan Corry, chief executive of the charitable think tank NPC, said he hoped Crouch’s successor would have more time for the charities brief.

"Since Nick Hurd’s time we have had a bit of a revolving door in terms of this post, he said.

"And of course Tracey Crouch combined the post with the sport portfolio and a role as minister for loneliness.

"We hope that her successor will be able to focus more fully on civil society so that it gets the attention it deserves."

Jane Ide, chief executive of the local infrastructure body Navca, said she was concerned that the new minister might not be committed to the government’s new Civil Society Strategy, particularly if they "end up with as broad a portfolio as Tracey Crouch did".

Peter Holbrook, chief executive of the umbrella body Social Enterprise UK, said Crouch’s resignation presented a "golden opportunity" for the government to regain the initiative on reforming the economy and called for a dedicated social enterprise minister.

"The latest research shows that social enterprises now contribute £60bn to UK GDP and employs two million people," he said. "That’s more than agriculture, which has it own department.

"We need our own dedicated minister for social enterprise and inclusive economy to champion a better way of doing business."

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