Labour makes Rachael Maskell new shadow charities minister

14 Apr 2020 News

Rachael Maskell is the new Labour shadow minister for charities, replacing Vicky Foxcroft.

Maskell, the member of parliament for York Central, will work alongside Jo Stevens MP, who has been named as the shadow secretary of state at the Department for Culture, Media, Sport and Digital.

Keir Starmer won the Labour Party leadership contest and made number of changes to the shadow cabinet last week. 

Maskell has asked questions about charities in parliament twice in the last three years, according to Hansard records, to ask about the financial support available to mental health charities and to scrutinise the process for charities bidding for international development funding.

Foxcroft, who was shadow charities minister for ten months, has been made shadow disabilities minister.

'A voice in parliament'

Before becoming an MP, Maskell represented the charity sector as an official working for Unite the union, and in 2015 she raised money for the British Heart Foundation by cycling from Westminster to the annual Labour conference in Brighton.

She said: “The voluntary sector needs a voice in parliament, now more than ever, to scrutinise the government and ensure that it can be resilient at this very difficult time. I will be that voice and will work closely with the sector to ensure that there is a greater focus on the work that an army of dedicated volunteers donate to enhancing our society.

“The sector is the source of innovation, compassion, creativity and service that holds our society together. I will amplify its voice, fight for its needs and secure its future. I commence this new role by saying ‘thank you’ for your service as I seek to serve you.”

Charities are part of the solution

Stevens, speaking before the government announced additional funding for charities during the coronavirus crisis, had been critical of the Treasury for responding too slowly to the sector’s needs.

Shortly after being appointed, Stevens said: “There are clear gaps in the government’s current package of financial support and one of the most glaring is charities.

“The intention of the Covid-19 job scheme is right but the design of it doesn’t work for charities.

“After a decade of charities being encouraged to operate effectively as businesses as well as becoming an essential part of public sector delivery, the scheme has impacted charities severely as one of its unintended consequences.

“I was in contact yesterday with the secretary of state straight after my appointment. Charities are part of the solution to our country coping with this public health crisis, but the current financial measures mean that they are not being seen as that. They need to be, before it’s too late.”

Labour call for more charity funding

Over the bank holiday, Keir Starmer used Twitter to thank UK charities which he said “have gone above and beyond” during the crisis, and called for more funding to help the sector.

Starmer wrote: “The government funding announced for charities this week is a welcome first step but more is needed to ensure they don’t have to close their doors at this vital time”.

The new Labour leader also thanked a number of charities by name, including Carers UK, SafeLives, Asthma UK and the food charity FareShare.


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