New cabinet minister responsible for charities after Brexit walk outs

10 Jul 2018 News

Jeremy Wright, the attorney general

Jeremy Wright has been appointed as the new secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport – the cabinet minister who oversees the charities brief.

The appointment comes after Matt Hancock was promoted to health secretary, in the wake of the departures of Boris Johnson and David Davis from the Cabinet.

Davis resigned as Brexit secretary shortly before midnight on Sunday and Johnson quit as foreign secretary at lunchtime yesterday. Both resigned over the plan for Brexit that was agreed at Chequers on Friday. 

Yesterday evening the prime minister, Theresa May announced that Jeremy Hunt would be the new foreign secretary, with Hancock moving from DCMS to the Department of Health and Social Care.

Hancock tweeted to say that he had “loved” his time at DCMS. 

 

Wright is the MP for Kenilworth and Southam and was previously the attorney general. In that role he recently took the decision to shut down the National Fund, a charity set up in 1928 to pay of the national debt which has thus far amassed £475m and spent nothing on its end goal. 

However he caused some consternation in the sector by deciding that the government should keep the money rather than leave it in the charity sector. 

Wright was elected in 2005 and between 2012 and 2014 he was a junior minister in the Ministry of Justice, where he worked on Transforming Rehabilitation, the government's ill-fated plan to outsource probation, before becoming attorney general in 2014.

He has mentioned ‘charity’ 20 times in Parliament, often in relation to working with charities in prisons or probation.

Wright’s constituency website shows him out visiting a number of local charities in recent weeks including the Shaw Trust, Citizens Advice and Dogs Trust as well as taking part in Carers Week. 

He does not have an active Twitter account. He backed remaining in European Union the 2016 referendum.

'Exciting and important time'

Hancock had been working closely with Tracey Crouch on the upcoming civil society strategy and told a consultation meeting that one of the things being considered was a new era of grants for charities. 

Vicky Browning, chief executive of Acevo, said this is an “exciting and important time” and urged the new minister to continue to make progress.

“Through the civil society strategy consultation, the voluntary sector has set out a template for how the government can transform its relationship with the civil society so that we can work collectively to build a stronger society. We ask that the continuation of this work is prioritised so that the energy and expertise generated through the consultation process is not lost.” 

She also thanked Hancock for his “warm support for civil society”. 

“We hope that in his new role as secretary of state for health and social care Mr Hancock continues to champion the vital role of civil society organisations in delivering services and championing the needs of communities,” she added. 

Andrew O’Brien, director of external affairs, Social Enterprise UK said: “We congratulate the Rt Hon Jeremy Wright MP on his appointment as the new secretary of state at DCMS and look forward to working with him to push social enterprise solutions to the many challenges the country faces. He brings with him years of experience and we hope that he uses this and his connections within government to push the social enterprise message across Whitehall, so we can bring about the change needed to make the economy truly work for everyone. 

“We also thank the Rt Hon Matt Hancock MP for this contribution whilst at DCMS and wish him all the best for his new role at the Department for Health and Social Care. Social enterprises are already working throughout the health system delivering services from community health care and dentistry to midwifery and mental health care and need to be embraced if we are to move towards a service based on prevention – something Mr Hancock would be aware of through his tenure at DCMS. We hope the innovative approach social enterprises offer are core to his work at his new department.”  

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