Rachael Maskell continues in shadow civil society role after Labour reshuffle

06 Dec 2021 News

Rachael Maskell has retained her role as the shadow minister for civil society in a Labour Party reshuffle.

Maskell, who has been in the job since April 2020, said in a tweet that she would use the position to focus on “rebuilding society” alongside her colleagues.

She will work in a team led by Lucy Powell MP, who was named as the new shadow secretary of state for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), which has overall responsibility for charity policy.

Former shadow civil society minister Lisa Nandy is now the shadow secretary of state for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, and will scrutinise the government’s high-profile agenda for strengthening economic and social infrastructure in poorer parts of the country.

Maskell and the Charity Commission

Before becoming an MP, Maskell represented the charity sector though her work as an official at the union Unite.

Maskell promised last year that a Labour government would put charities “front and centre” of the national debate, by moving the civil society portfolio out of DCMS to the Cabinet Office and ensuring the minister sat in the House of Commons.

Last month, she called on DCMS to restart its search for a new Charity Commission chair with a guarantee of “full independence” for the selection panel.

DCMS secretary of state Nadine Dorries declined the suggestion. Martin Thomas was named as the government’s preferred candidate to chair the regulator on Thursday.

Maskell told Civil Society News: “I am delighted to be asked to continue championing the needs of civil society in parliament and building a transformative agenda for the future of the sector.

“Civil society is at the heart of what makes all of our communities the special places they are, it is where people come together to meet need and seed change and it is where people are fulfilled.

“There is much we can do together and Labour are determined to work with the sector to shape the future and enable civil society to be the powerful agent it is.”

Lucy Powell to shadow DCMS

Lucy Powell has replaced Jo Stevens as shadow secretary of state at DCMS.

Last year, Powell used her position as shadow business minister to seek clarification on whether charity shops could be classed as essential retailers and allowed to trade during the second national lockdown.

Data shows that charity shop networks lost hundreds of millions of pounds as a result of lockdown restrictions in 2020 and 2021.

She is also a patron at The Tutor Trust, a charity which partners with schools to provide tutoring for pupils.

Lisa Nandy will shadow levelling up department 

Lisa Nandy, who has moved from shadow foreign secretary to shadow secretary of state at the new department for levelling up, was shadow civil society minister between 2013 and 2015.

In 2014, Nandy warned that the coalition government’s Lobbying Act could lead to charities “self-censoring” rather than campaigning for change.

She worked for the Children’s Society and the homelessness charity Centrepoint before becoming an MP.

Editor's note (7 December 11.25am): Article updated to include quote from Rachael Maskell 

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