Sector reacts to axing of dedicated charities minister role

Concerns have been raised over the government’s decision to axe the role of dedicated charities minister within the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

During his September reshuffle Prime Minister Boris Johnson moved charities minister Baroness Barran to the Department for Education as minister for the school system, a role that oversees school efficiency and safeguarding.

But the government has confirmed that there will no longer be a dedicated charities minister role. Barran had taken on the dedicated the civil society role in 2019.

Instead, her civil society brief will become the responsibility of sports minister Nigel Huddleston, whose brief already includes heritage and tourism.

He also takes on Barran’s brief of supporting the youth sector. In addition, he has been an assistant government whip since Jul 2019.

The NCVO welcomed his appointment but is concerned that “combining civil society with sport, heritage and tourism will mean a full and challenging workload for the minister”.

Matt Lent, chief executive of youth charity Spark! points out that the decision to add civil society and youth to Huddleston’s ministerial brief had been made “very quietly for some reason”.

Meanwhile, National Youth Agency chief executive Leigh Middleton said he looked forward to working with Huddleston, who he spoke to at last week’s Conservative Party conference.

Huddleston is MP for Mid Worcestershire and joined the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport as parliamentary under-secretary for sport, heritage and tourism in February 2020. His appointment last year already saw him taking on two ministerial roles, replacing former tourism and heritage minister Helen Whately and sports minister Nigel Adams.

The role of minister for civil society had previously been merged with the minister of sport brief in 2017, with the appointment of Tracey Crouch, who resigned in 2018 over delays in reducing the limits on fixed odds betting terminals.

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