Sector bodies urge minister to halt Stowell appointment

A group of voluntary sector bodies, including Acevo, Navca and Children England, have written to culture secretary Matt Hancock saying he should not make the Tory peer chair of the Charity Commission

Matt Hancock
Matt Hancock

A group of voluntary sector bodies have called on Matt Hancock, the culture secretary, to halt the appointment of Baroness Stowell as the next chair of the Charity Commission because it would damage public trust in the regulator.

Hancock announced today that he would appoint the Conservative peer to lead the commission’s board, even though a cross-party committee of MPs had said she should not take up the role because of concerns such as her lack of experience of the voluntary sector.

A letter sent today from the chief executives of the charity leaders body Acevo, the Charity Finance Group, the local infrastructure body Navca, the training and publishing charity the Directory of Social Change and the membership body Children England, says that should Stowell’s appointment go ahead "we believe that every directive, inquiry and difficult decision that the Charity Commission makes will be open to the allegation of being influenced by party politics".

It says: "This will ultimately damage public trust and the trust of the sector in its regulator."

It adds that rejecting the decision of the parliamentary committee responsible would call into question how the regulator could be fully accountable to parliament.

"The independence of the Charity Commission risks being significantly undermined," the letter says. "This creates concern about the constitutional status of the commission and goes to the heart of the relationship between this government and the sector."

The letter concludes by calling for a meeting with Hancock to discuss reforming the appointment process in future.

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