Michael O'Toole has been appointed as the goverment's crown representative for the voluntary sector, in a newly-created role.
The Cabinet Office said in a statement that with this appoinment it wants to “ensure the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector (VCSE) sector voice is heard at the highest levels”. It is hoping to increase the scope of charities and social enterprises and improve the relationship between government and the sector.
O’Toole – previously chief executive of 3SC, which manages bids and delivery consortia for large public sector contracts on behalf of civil society delivery organisations – will start on 18 June.
His job will be to open up more public sector business opportunities for not-for-profit organisations and improve the government’s business relationship with the VCSE sector – and make it easier for these organisations to tender for public contracts.
The Cabinet Office said that O’Toole will also help the government to engage more widely on VCSE issues, and find ways to enable VCSEs to bring their solutions to the public sector market.
After the upcoming appointment was announced at Civil Society Question Time last month, public and voluntary sector journalist Becky Slack said that the experience of other crown representatives suggested that the creation of the post would be good news for charities.
In a blog for civilsociety.co.uk, Slack wrote: “Crown representatives facilitate strategic dialogue between Whitehall and a defined supplier or group of suppliers and their trade associations.
“They get a seat at the table, their voices are listened to and they can help develop new initiatives and ideas; the aim being that they enable everyone to have fair and equal access to government.
“I believe their appointment will have the potential to do a great deal of good for charities within government.”
Important role for the sector
Nick Hurd, minister for civil society, commented on the appointment:
“This new appointment shows how serious we are about enabling the voluntary sector to win more public contracts, and give them the tools they need to achieve this. This is a really important role for the sector and Michael O’Toole, who has shown he can deliver real change through his achievements at 3SC, is a welcome appointment.”
Michael O’Toole himself was “delighted” about his new role.
“In this crucial post I aim to play my part in opening up public sector business to VCSEs,” he said. “I passionately believe that the sector offers a huge contribution to public services delivery, which is still largely untapped. Their passion, innovation, and huge voluntary resource can offer government an efficient and effective public services delivery option.”