Charity leaders have paid tribute to Tracey Crouch, who quit government yesterday in a row over fixed odds betting terminals. But they have called for Crouch's ministerial portfolio to be split up.
Crouch was minister of state for charities, social enterprise, youth, sport, loneliness, horse racing, gambling and lotteries.
She had won the respect of many charity leaders, and of politicians from across the Commons, through the consultation process on the new Civil Society Strategy.
But many have also raised concerns that the large portfolio meant that Crouch was spread too thin and there have been renewed calls for a separate civil society minister, a social enterprise minister and a youth minister.
Acevo: ‘She had the mindset we needed but not the time’
Vicky Browning, chief executive of Acevo, said: “Tracey Crouch was a passionate and committed civil society minister who clearly valued the role of charities. I regret that she will no longer be our minister, but her decision to resign was based on a principle that all civil society leaders can respect.
“While the circumstances are not ideal, there is now an opportunity for the secretary of state to allocate the sports and civil society briefs to different ministers. Tracey Crouch had the mindset we need in a minister, but she did not have the time needed to achieve the vision she laid out. It is unrealistic to expect one person to hold briefs for charity, social enterprise, sport, gambling, lotteries and loneliness. We ask that Jeremy Wright demonstrate his commitment to civil society by appointing a minister who is able to make the civil society strategy a reality.”
NCVO: 'Passionate and inspiring minister'
Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive of NCVO, said: "Tracey has been a passionate and inspiring minister for civil society. Her strong leadership in creating a cross-government civil society strategy demonstrated a real commitment to supporting the work of charities across the country.
“She made a point of always trying to work in partnership with charities and in doing so gained a great deal of goodwill. Her work to help improve safeguarding standards was exemplary of her thoughtful and constructive approach. She leaves a strong legacy and we will play our role in ensuring momentum continues in implementing the important strategy she put in place."
ACF: ‘Tough act to follow’
Carol Mack, chief executive of the Association of Charitable Foundations, said: “Tracey Crouch will be missed. Not only was she a passionate advocate for the work of civil society and the vital role played by foundations, but also dynamic, energetic and willing to listen to both the concerns and aspirations of the sector. She’ll be a tough act to follow.”
NPC: ‘There’s been a revolving door of ministers’
Dan Corry, chief executive “It is sad to see Tracey Crouch go—although we admire the principled stand she has taken.
“In her time in the post we saw the publication of the Civil Society strategy which, though we felt it could have been stronger, was the first government statement in this area for many years.
“Since Nick Hurd’s time we have had a bit of a revolving doors in terms of this post. And of course Tracey Crouch combined the post with the sport portfolio - her real passion - and a role as minister for loneliness. We hope that her successor will be able to focus more fully on civil society so that it gets the attention it deserves.”
Social Enterprise UK: ‘We need our own minister’
Peter Holbrook, chief executive of Social Enterprise UK, said: “I am sorry to hear that Tracey has decided to resign as minister for sport and civil society. She was someone who deeply cared about improving the lives of citizens and was always ready to listen to our sector’s views.
“This resignation gives the government a golden opportunity to regain the initiative on reforming the economy. If we are going to create an economy that truly works for everyone we need to back social enterprises.
He added that: “We need our own dedicated minister for social enterprise and inclusive economy to champion a better way of doing business
“At the very least, we are businesses and we deserve to be recognised as businesses. Responsibility for social enterprise must sit in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.”
SEUK has now launched a Twitter campaign urging its members to tweet a message to the prime minister to call for their own minister.
Large Charities Group: 'Tracey’s influence to be felt for years to come'
Simon Gillespie, chief executive of the British Heart Foundation and chair of the Large Charities Group, said: “It has been a pleasure to work with Tracey Crouch as Minister for Civil Society. Her leadership and desire to meaningfully engage and champion the value and contribution of charities across government has been laudable. As chair of the Large Charities Group, I have welcomed her commitment to working with large charities to foster greater partnership and in welcoming their input as part of a thriving civil society sector. The Civil Society Strategy leaves a great legacy and opportunity for Tracey’s influence to be felt for years to come.”
Sector figures tweet
Many sector figures also tweeted messages of support to Crouch.
Peter Lewis, chief executive of the Institute of Fundraising, said: “Sorry to see you resign. You have added understanding passion and energy to the civil society brief and left a strong legacy for your successor to build on in the Civil Society Strategy.”
Jane Ide, chief executive of Navca, said she was concerned that a new minister might not be committed to the Civil Society Strategy. “It’s been hard enough for the minister most personally committed to it to get any real traction for it. Difficult to imagine a new minister without that personal level of involvement doing much with it, especially if they end up with as broad a portfolio as Tracey Crouch did.”
Tony Armstrong, chief executive of Locality, said: “Sad to hear that Tracey Crouch has resigned. Thanks for a genuine enthusiasm for the brief and bringing energy to the role – particularly through the civil society strategy.”
Matt Hyde, chief executive of the Scout Association, said: “She was a terrific minister and totally committed to the value of civil society. Now is the opportunity to split out the huge portfolio she had an (re)create a dedicated ministerial post for civil society.”
Tessy Ojo, chief executive of the Diana Award, said: “Sad to see Tracey Crouch resign but seeing first-hand the direct impact that gambling and its related activities/problems has on young people, I agree that much more needs to be done and sooner to support the most vulnerable.”
Matt Lent, chief executive of Future First, said: “I think Tracey Crouch was a good minister who seemed to genuinely care about her brief, but it became a dumping ground for what government consider lightweight issues; sport, civil society, youth policy and loneliness. It’s time to give both civil society and youth affairs full-time minister.”
Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “It’s a shame for the charity sector: our principles need to outlive ministers, CEOs, policy change (and the rest) too. It was good to have a minister who demonstrably understood that.”
There was also praise from politicians from both sides of the House on Twitter.
Shadow minister for civils society Steve Reed said: “Sorry to see Tracey Crouch go, she’s a decent person, genuinely respected across the House and the sector. I’ll miss shadowing. I’ll miss shadowing her and wish all the best.”
Susan Elan Jones, Labour MP for Clwyd South and co-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Charities and Volunteering said: “Tracey Crouch resigned on a matter of principle. Many tributes from the voluntary sector. Tracey will be missed as charities minister.”
Damian Collins, Conservative MP and chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, said: “I’m sorry to see that Tracey Crouch has resigned. She will be a loss to the government, and leaves behind a legacy of reform, not least on gambling regulation and the sports strategy.”