Sector leaders have given generally positive assessments of Nick Hurd’s time as Minister for Civil Society after he stepped down last night.
Hurd has left after more than four years in the post – he has been the longest-serving charities minister.
Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, told Third Sector that Hurd had been a dedicated, hard-working and effective minister.
"It is pretty easy to be a minister when you have a lot of money to spray about, but he did not and he did a very good job," said Etherington. He said that Hurd had done a lot of "heavy lifting" behind the scenes and had played a helpful part in the government’s decision to reverse the so-called "philanthropy tax" and had gained concessions for the sector on the lobbying act.
Etherington said that Hurd would be remembered most for his work to introduce the National Citizen Service, but had also been very active in trying to secure hundreds of millions of pounds of extra funds for the voluntary sector from the next round of European Social Fund funding and had worked to bring into being the social investment wholesaler Big Society Capital.
Sir Stephen Bubb, head of the charity chief executives body, Acevo, paid warm tribute to Hurd’s time in post. "Nick Hurd has been a dedicated and knowledgeable civil society minister, the longest to serve in that role," said Bubb. "He has been a fantastic partner to the third sector and a pleasure to work with."
John Low, chief executive of the Charities Aid Foundation, said Hurd had been a "friend to many in the charity sector" and had been supportive of efforts to promote charitable giving and enhance the role of charities.
"While the idea of the big society has not transformed the landscape in the way some had hoped, it's vital that his successor supports a vibrant and strong voluntary sector, which does so much to contribute to Britain today and has such enormous potential to change things for the better," said Low.
Joe Irvin, chief executive of the local infrastructure body Navca, said Hurd had a genuine commitment to the voluntary sector. "Nick was able to maintain relationships with the sector, despite the cuts, and was able to rescue elements of the big society approach," he said.
Caron Bradshaw, chief executive of the Charity Finance Group, told Third Sector it was a shame to see Hurd go because he had a genuine interest in the sector and was sympathetic towards what charities were trying to achieve.
But she said that the sector had not seen as many initiatives come out of the government’s big society agenda as it would have liked. "It was put forward with great hope, but it was not followed through," she said.
She added that Hurd had diminished in effectiveness over his time in office and had been "saddled with a minister above him – Francis Maude – who was not particularly sold on the sector".
Lisa Nandy, Hurd’s Labour shadow, said on Twitter that she was sad to see Hurd go. He was a "thoughtful architect of the original big society", she said. "Not sure where this leaves David Cameron's favourite project."