Phil Hope, the former skills minister in the Department for Education and Skills, has been appointed as the new minister for the third sector at the Cabinet Office. He will replace Ed Miliband, who has been promoted to minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.
Hope (pictured) is MP for Corby and East Northamptonshire and has a background in the voluntary sector, having worked as a youth policy adviser at the NCVO and at the National Youth Bureau where he was head of its Young Volunteer Resources Unit. He is also a former head of the all party parliamentary group for charities and the voluntary sector.
In a statement on his website, Hope said: "I am greatly excited by the new role I have been asked to undertake. The third sector - voluntary groups, charities and social enterprises ï¿½ plays a critical role alongside the public and private sectors to build economic success, create social justice and develop stronger communities."
Meanwhile, Miliband had a ceremonial start to his new Cabinet role, meeting with the Queen last Friday afternoon to receive the Seals of Office associated with his new Duchy and be sworn in to the Privy Council. In a statement he said it was an "honour and privilege" to be appointed to the Cabinet, where he will sit with his older brother David, who is the new foreign secretary.
"I look forward not only to driving forward policy on the third sector and social exclusion and poverty, but helping to contribute to policy development across government," he said. "After a year working with charities, voluntary groups and social enterprise, I am particularly delighted to be able to continue that work."
Prime minister Gordon Brown's decision to promote Miliband to the head of the Cabinet Office, where he replaces Hilary Armstrong, has been praised by sector leaders who have been impressed by his work there in the Office of the Third Sector over the past year.
Stephen Bubb, chief executive of acevo, said he was "delighted" that Miliband would be keeping a watch over the sector's relationship with government. "It shows that in a Brown Britain the sector will remain at the heart of policy making. It's tremendous news." Bubb also welcomed Hope in his new role and said he looked forward to working closely with him.
Stuart Etherington, chief executive of the NCVO, said Hope's experience within the sector meant he would "bring a unique understanding of the issues and challenges that we, as a sector, face every day".
Ben Wittenberg, director of policy and research at the Directory of Social Change, called on Hope to follow his predecessor's good example. "Ed has set the bar pretty high, especially in terms of listening to the wider sector. Phil would do well to maintain the level of engagement Ed and the Office of the Third Sector has established with the sector and not be sidetracked by the few with the loudest voices at the top of the pile."
Hope, who is 52, entered parliament with the Labour landslide in 1997, after working as a teacher and serving as a Labour and Co-operative councillor in Northamptonshire and Kettering. He then worked as private secretary to Nick Raynsford at the former Department for the Environment, Transport and Regions, and to the then-deputy prime minister John Prescott.
In 2003 Hope became parliamentary under-secretary of state in the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, with responsibilities including regulatory and public sector reform and e-local government, before joining the DfES as skills minister in May 2005.
Last December Hope was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma. He continued to work in parliament while undergoing six months of chemotherapy and revealed in a BBC interview last month that he had recently got the "all clear".
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