Has Johnson forgotten about social enterprise? UK remains without civil society minister nine days after reshuffle begins | The social enterprise magazine
UK social enterprise leaders have been holding their breath for a week since the post of civil society minister was vacated on September 17.
Baroness Barran, who had held the post since July 2019, announced last Friday evening that she was being transferred to a post at the Department of Education during the UK government reshuffle. His successor had not yet been named on the morning of Friday, September 24.
The Ministry of Digital, Culture, Media and Sports, where the Minister of Civil Society sits, said Pioneer Post Friday that a minister was yet to be appointed and portfolios would be awarded after that, but confirmed that the civil society file would stay with DCMS and not be transferred to another department.
Upon departure, Baroness Barran tweeted: “A great honor to be appointed to @educationgovuk ministerial team. Can’t wait to get down to work but first … A BIG THANKS to @DCMS Civil society and youth team for all your support. Also to all charities, social enterprises for all the work you do – especially in the past 18 months.
“It was the most difficult period and you mobilized and served our communities. Supported of course by brilliant volunteers whose generosity was extraordinary. Thank you also to all the funders and philanthropists who have partnered with us over the past year. “
In the Scottish Government, social entrepreneurship is the responsibility of the Minister of Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise, currently Ivan McKee MSP.
In Wales, the social enterprise dossier is organized by the Economy Minister, currently Vaughan Gething MS. Within the Northern Ireland executive, Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey is responsible for social enterprises.
Danny Kruger and Andy Haldane in ‘leveling’ roles
Meanwhile, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s reshuffle (when government ministers can be moved between departments, appointed or removed by the PM) demonstrated a greater focus on the ‘leveling up’ agenda – government commitment to reduce place-based inequalities in the country. Many of those working in social enterprise and social investment argue that their organizations can play a key role in this agenda.
The Department for Housing, Communities and Local Government will be renamed the Department for Leveling Up, Housing and Communities and will be headed by Michael Gove. Danny Kruger, former expert adviser on civil society at DCMS, has joined the department as parliamentary private secretary.
The Conservative MP released a leveling report last year, which highlighted the potential of communities to help revive “left behind” regions of the country. He also heads a conservative think tank, the New Social Pact Unit, with the mission of sharing “a set of old and new ideas in British politics”.
As “civil society czar” in 2018, Kruger pledged to give social enterprises their “own voice” in government. As of last week, social enterprises still sit on charities as part of the civil society dossier in DCMS.
Also this week, Andy Haldane, former chief economist at the Bank of England, was appointed to head the Cabinet Office’s “leveling up task force”. Haldane is to join as permanent secretary for six months on secondment from the Royal Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA).
He said: “I look forward to working with colleagues in government, local and national, and with the private and voluntary sectors, to design and build an economy that works for every part of the UK.”
Six ministers in 11 years
A former city banker who became the founder of a charity, Barran was named a Conservative Peer in 2018 and appointed Minister of Civil Society in July 2019 in Boris Johnson’s first government.
His successor will become the seventh minister of civil society in 11 years. Nick Hurd, who oversaw the creation of Big Society Capital, was the first to hold the position between 2010 and 2014. Prior to 2010, the social entrepreneurship dossier was handed over to various junior ministers in the Blair and Brown governments, including Ed Milband who was Minister of the Third Sector in 2006-2007.
Civil society ministers after Hurd included Brooks Newmark, who was only in office for two months; Rob Wilson (almost three years old), Tracey Crouch (one and a half years) and Mims Davies (eight months).
The civil society file was transferred from the Cabinet Office to DCMS in 2016. Since then, Social Enterprise UK and others have campaigned for it to be transferred to the business department, so far without success.
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