Stephen Crabb faces calls to resign as patron of a local disability charity

More than 10,000 people have signed an online petition calling on the newly-appointed work and pensions secretary to relinquish his role at Pembrokeshire Mencap

Stephen Crabb
Stephen Crabb

More than 10,000 people have put their names to an online petition calling for Stephen Crabb, the new work and pensions secretary, to resign as a patron of the disability charity Pembrokeshire Mencap.

The petition, which was created on the website 38 Degrees by Jim Scott, a member of the anti-austerity protest group the People's Assembly, calls for Crabb to step down from his role at the charity because he voted in favour of government cuts to disability benefits earlier this month.

Crabb, who is the Conservative MP for Preseli Pembrokeshire and a former trustee of the food bank Pembrokeshire Action to Combat Hardship, was promoted to be work and pensions secretary over the weekend after his predecessor Iain Duncan Smith quit over planned benefit changes.

The petition says: "Your recent vote in the House of Commons for disabled people to lose £30 per week of Employment Support Allowance shows that you have absolutely no compassion or understanding for the needs of our most vulnerable and disabled members of society.

"As citizens of Pembrokeshire and elsewhere we feel that it is highly inappropriate that you continue as a patron for Mencap after voting for such inhumane and damaging cuts to ESA."

The petition had about 4,000 signatures when Crabb was promoted from his role as Welsh secretary on Saturday. By midday on Monday it had 10,140.

The trustees of Pembrokeshire Mencap issued a statement on Thursday saying that it would not be in the society’s interests to ask Crabb to resign.

"The society has had a long association with, and enjoyed the support of our local MPs, of whatever party has been in power," the statement said. "There are bound to be occasions when some of the members will have different views to those of our patrons.

"The current legislation will be discussed in due course and our views expressed to our patron if thought necessary."

A spokeswoman for Pembrokeshire Mencap told Third Sector today that the charity’s trustees planned to discuss the petition at a meeting this morning.

She said the charity spoke with Crabb’s office on Friday and that he was still planning to continue as patron at that time.

Ian Wilshaw, a trustee of the charity, said: "We shall hope to meet with Stephen to have an exchange of views before making any other statements."

A spokeswoman for the Department for Work and Pensions said Crabb would not be commenting at this time.

Pembrokeshire Mencap, which is a separate charity to the national Royal Mencap Society, supports people with disabilities and their carers and manages gardens on the National Trust estate at Stackpole in Pembrokeshire. It had an income of £220,000 last year.

Crabb is the fourth Conservative politician to face calls to resign as a patron of a disability charity over the past week.

The London mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith, Kit Malthouse, MP for North West Hampshire, and James Cleverly, MP for Braintree, were asked to step down from their roles with three different disability charities after voting for the £30 a week disability benefit cuts.

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