The government has announced that Claire Dove, a former member of the Charity Commission board, has been appointed as the next crown representative for the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector - over a year after the government started the process of recruiting one.
Crown representatives manage the procurement relationship between government and suppliers. In most cases the job of the crown representative is to get the best deal for the government, however the VCSE crown representative role is more focused on ensuring the relationship works effectively.
Dove was the chair of Social Enterprise UK between 2007 and 2017. She has been active in the social enterprise movement since the 1980s and led the Blackburne House Group, an adult and community education provider, since it was founded.
She was on the board of the Charity Commission between 2013 and 2016.
Claire Dove VCSE crown representative, said: "It’s an honour to take on this role. Millions of people benefit from the work that charities and social enterprises do and I cannot wait to get started to ensure this sector continues to go from strength to strength."
Tracey Crouch, minister for sport and civil society, said: "Claire will bring a lot of passion and experience into this role – having chaired Social Enterprise UK among other organisations. I am looking forward to working alongside her and the Crown Commercial Service to help support the VCSE sector and societies across the country."
Post vacant since 2014
The charity sector has been without a crown representative since September 2014, when Michael O’Toole stood down. Rob Wilson, the former minister for civil society, had announced the appointment of a new one as part of wider range of measures to help small charities win contracts in December 2016.
DCMS advertised the post in February 2017 and initially expected to have selected a candidate by the end of March – before the General Election was called.
Crown representatives work two days a week are paid £500 a day. The role is part of the civil service and is based in the government’s commercial function.
Acevo: 'Inspirational leader with a comprehensive understanding of the sector'
Vicky Browning, chief executive of Acevo, said: "I welcome the appointment of Claire Dove as the new Crown Representative for the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise sector. Claire is an inspirational leader with a comprehensive understanding of the VCSE sector gained through her roles as CEO of Blackburne House Group, chair of Social Enterprise UK and trustee of the Charity Commission. ACEVO looks forward to working with her to support charities and their leaders to strengthen and grow."
SEUK: 'We are delighted'
Peter Holbrook, chief executive of Social Enterprise UK, said: “We are delighted that Claire Dove has been appointed as the Crown Representative for the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise Sector. She’s been an outstanding champion of the social enterprise movement and has both the commercial experience and deep understanding of disadvantage and poverty that make her an ideal candidate for the job and uniquely suited to the role.
"She has proven leadership in advocating for the nation’s social enterprises and charities to the highest levels of government and whilst chair of Social Enterprise UK, Claire oversaw the transition of SEUK into a mass membership organisation and into a social enterprise itself – helping strengthen our voice and mandate as a representative body for the social enterprise movement.
"Government has a huge role to play in both building and shaping markets and in these financially tight and uncertain times, it needs to do more to embrace the work of social enterprises and their compatriots in the wider VCSE sector.
"We know that Claire will use her new role to take our arguments to government and build the crucial dialogue that is needed between it and the VCSE sector so that its potential is fully realised.”