Policy, campaigns & research, Government and the Voluntary Sector

New Sports and Civil Society Minister Tracey Crouch needs to listen to the grassroots

Tracey Crouch MP is the new Sports and Civil Society Minister, having been reappointed during the cabinet reshuffle with an expanded role. DSC looks forward to hearing more about what the government's approach to charities and the wider sector will be.

The policy issues which come under the civil society brief are complex and important – not just to hundreds of thousands of organisations and volunteers – but the millions of people they serve. They aren’t an ‘add on’. They are a critical part of successful policy for government across any number of critical areas and social issues.

We urge Tracey to get out there and listen not just to the usual umbrella bodies but also those charities working on the ground, and especially those charities that were campaigning most vigorously during the election.

DSC will offer her the voice of a ‘concerned citizen’ on behalf of the sector as a whole, and its vast majority of small, local charities.

There is no shortage of things to do, but we’ve got five key priorities that she and her team could start working on right away:

  1. The Charity Commission has seen its budget slashed from £40m to around £21m over recent years, putting a vital system of regulation at risk. Instead of making charities pay for their own regulation we need to increase to the Commission’s budget from general taxation – a potential new spending review this year would present a perfect opportunity for Tracey to make the case.
  2. The government still owes UK charities and community groups £425m in lottery cash – taken from the Big Lottery Fund to support the 2012 Olympics. This could fund the activities of up to 42,000 small and medium-sized organisations.  Tracey should push for government to repay this debt now so it can support millions of people.
  3. It is vital that charities maintain their independence and have the ability to campaign within charity law, so they can serve beneficiaries in the best way. Tracey should advocate for implementation of Lord Hodgson’s recommendations on the Lobbying Act, and to make a strong commitment to safeguard the independence of the sector across government.
  4. Grants from public bodies have been decimated in recent years in favour of inflexible, bureaucratic contracts which don’t work well for small organisations. Tracey should help make the case for more and better grant funding by working with the Grants for Good campaign, to highlight good practice from local authorities and CCGs.
  5. Brexit is a big ‘known unknown’ for charities, community groups and social enterprise too. There are major concerns about how Brexit will affect them and their beneficiaries. The Sector needs Tracey to put forward concrete proposals on how to represent the interests of civil society during the upcoming negotiations. More certainty is need too about how EU funding will be replaced or redesigned.

What do you think? Share your thoughts, opinions and reactions with us today at policy@dsc.org.uk or @DSC_Charity! You can also follow Tracey Crouch on Twitter at @tracey_crouch – why not send her a welcome tweet and tell her about YOUR priorities?