14 May 2010; Source: Civil Society | The UK’s incoming Conservative/Liberal governing coalition has appointed Nick Hurd to be the nation’s Charities Minister, replacing outgoing Angela Smith of Gordon Brown’s Labour government (his formal title will be, we think, Minister of State for the Third Sector, with functions of promoting social enterprise, cutting red tape for nonprofits, helping nonprofits meet the requirements of the Charities Act, and offering a variety of “core funding” programs for nonprofits—sounding like a combination of the Corporation for National and Community Service and the Internal Revenue Services’ Tax Exempt and Government Entities unit here).
According to Civil Society, he has 19 months under his belt as the Conservative Party’s “shadow minister” for charities, giving him more experience and knowledge of the UK’s “voluntary sector” than his Labour Party predecessors. What might Hurd do as charities minister? In the lead-up to the recent elections, he indicated he would abandon the “initiative-itis” that he said “bedeviled” Labour.
Like succeeding governments here, he said he wouldn’t undo programs such as Capacitybuilders and Futurebuilders: “Governments of all colours have a history of ripping up what the other lot have done. We wouldn’t have created Capacitybuilders or Futurebuilders . . . ourselves but now they are out there, we need to spend a bit of time looking at what they do and then reach a sound conclusion as to whether they should still be there.”
Sounding like NPQ’s 2009 study on the nonprofit infrastructure, Hurd described the “infrastructure layer” of the UK’s voluntary sector as a “complete muddle” due to organizational redundancies. And sounding like frequent NPQ contributor Bill Schambra of the Hudson Institute, he issued a warning about the “damage [to] the sector” that might come from too much nonprofit dependency on government funding: “The government is far and away the biggest source of income yet only half get any money from government at all. This trend of concentration of state funding is not particularly healthy.”—Rick Cohen