Charity leaders have welcomed Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to step down following a wave of scandals and hope the country's leader will “refocus once more on urgent key policy areas” that impact on the sector.
This includes tackling the cost-of-living crisis, promoting charity involvement in the levelling up agenda and improving community support.
NGO leaders also want to see a new PM over turn cuts to its sector.
However, as of this morning Johnson was adamant he wanted to stay in post until October, when the Conservative Party elect a new leader. This could see a further three months of disruption to government and legislation.
Dozens of ministers have already quit this week in protest at Johnson’s leadership, leaving the timing of many policy decisions in doubt.
Former Conservative schools minister Nick Gibb is among Tory MPs calling for Johnson to leave office immediately and hand over power to an acting PM.
As well as resigning as Party leader the PM must resign his office. After losing so many ministers, he has lost the trust and authority required to continue. We need an acting PM who is not a candidate for leader to stabilise the government while a new leader is elected.— Nick Gibb (@NickGibbUK) July 7, 2022
Commenting on Johnson’s decision to step down Stephanie Draper, chief executive of NGO network Bond, called for his replacement to take urgent steps ”to reinstate a commitment of ensuring 0.7% of GDP is spent on UK aid.
“The commitment Boris Johnson showed in response to the war in Ukraine and getting girls into education was welcome, however under his leadership we also saw the poorly considered merger between the Foreign Office and DfID, as well as the devastating cuts to the UK aid budget, removing a lifeline to billions of people dealing with conflict, poverty and climate change,” she said.
“We hope whoever replaces him takes urgent steps to get us back to 0.7% of GNI going to UK aid, so we can legitimately reclaim our role as a global player when it comes to delivering on our promises to the world's most marginalised people.”
Meanwhile, Acevo chief executive Jane Ide said charity policy teams are “deeply worried” by the scale of ministerial resignations.
“The leadership of the Conservative Party is a matter for the party, but the leadership of this country is a matter of concern for all of us,” she said.
“There is no question that the succession of ministerial resignations over the last 48 hours and the unsustainable level of unfilled ministerial roles has left many of our campaigning and advocacy colleagues deeply worried that important and pressing matters affecting the most disadvantaged in our communities will, once again, be left on the back burner while political machinations take priority.
“On that basis we welcome the decision of Boris Johnson to step down from his role as Prime Minister, bringing to an end the disruption of recent days and weeks, and allowing for a transition of power to a new leader.
“We hope that while this process is undertaken our government will find itself able to refocus once more on urgent key policy areas such as the current and continuing cost of living crisis, the levelling up agenda and support for communities, the need for a real solution to the crisis in social care and the challenges in delivering effective health care and tackling deep-rooted health inequalities.”
Among the wave of ministerial resignations was Education Secretary Michelle Donelan, who quit just 36 hours after replacing Nadhim Zahawi, who was made Chancellor in the aftermath of Rishi Sunak’s resignation. She has since been replaced by James Cleveley.
Children’s Society chief executive Mark Russell called for “leadership, vision and change” at the department rather than the current upheaval.
Yesterday I was worried about 7 Education Secretaries in 7 years, now we’ve had 3 in a week. There are huge challenges facing the most vulnerable children in the country. We need leadership, vision and change - not this https://t.co/BSN0DASEXb— Mark Russell 🇺🇦 (he/him) (@markrusselluk) July 7, 2022
Another policy area impacting on charities to be hit by the resignations is the levelling up agenda being overseen by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. Levelling Up secretary Michael Gove was sacked by Johnson this week and junior minister Danny Kruger, who had advised Johnson on charity sector reform, has resigned.
Gove has since been replaced by Greg Clarke.