The twin appointments of Nick Hurd as minister for the third sector and Greg Clark as a minister of state in the Department for Communities and Local Government is a “great result” for the sector, according to NCVO chief executive Stuart Etherington.
The fact that both posts will be held by men who have served as sector spokesmen in opposition could hardly be better for the sector, Etherington said. Their combined experience of charities and social enterprise would be hugely valuable in ensuring that civil society is considered in all decisions taken by the new government.
“We are delighted with the appointments of both Hurd and Clark. Both these appointments are great results for the sector,” he said.
“This really places civil society at the heart of government.”
Clark’s appointment was announced on Wednesday; confirmation of Hurd’s new job is expected today.
Greg Clark was the Conservatives’ charities spokesman from November 2006 until October 2008 when he followed his Labour counterpart Ed Miliband out of the voluntary sector and into energy. Clark became the shadow secretary of state for energy and climate change as part of a limited shuffle of the Conservative Party’s front bench team.
In an address to the NCVO conference in February, Clark suggested that the concept of full cost recovery was insulting to the sector, which should be entitled to make profits from service delivery just as the private sector can. “Then the voluntary sector can go on to reinvest and replicate on the success,” he said.
But, Clark also warned that the voluntary sector needed to be doubly careful in partnerships with the state: “The voluntary sector should never subsidise public sector contracts on the cheap.”
He acknowledged campaigning and advocacy as a crucial role for charities dealing with climate change. “Your freedom to speak out must never be compromised.”
And he added that the government currently relied on advertising campaigns to raise awareness of climate issues but that it should instead look to voluntary organisations for “a better way forward”.
Clark is not a fan of the term ‘third sector’ – in 2006 he told the Conservative Women’s Organisation that Labour’s use of the phrase was evidence that it sees the sector as a junior partner.
“This [Labour] government just loves partnership,” Clark said. “Sadly, the role it has for the voluntary sector is that of a junior partner – hence its preferred term: third sector.”