Friday, 7 September 2012 8:09 AM
Tim Loughton did a difficult job well in a Coalition overseeing the most savage cuts in memory
by Gareth Crossman, Executive Director of External Affairs, TACT
As soon as Tim Loughton MP announced on Twitter that he had been, in his own words ‘asked to stand down as Children’s Minister’ by the Prime Minister there were hundreds of tweets in response. Many of these were from children’s charities, including TACT, who have worked with him over the last seven years in opposition and then government. Perhaps surprisingly, given that he was a Conservative Minister in a government overseeing the most savage cuts to public sector funding in memory, these seemed unanimous in support and praise.
Tim did a difficult job very well. Unfortunately, when the coalition Government was elected, it downgraded the role of children’s minister with responsibility for children in care to Parliamentary Under Secretary, the most junior ministerial position. This meant that he would listen to the concerns raised by TACT, and other charities supporting children in care, knowing that his ability to act was very much dependant on the views of more senior ministers. The government’s continued focus on adoption at, in TACT’s opinion, the expense of other options within the care system was a clear indication of strongly held views near the top of government.
We in the sector understood this and appreciated that Tim had a genuine concern for, and commitment to, the welfare of children in the care system. He worked tirelessly and always seemed to make himself available for the many events and speaking invitations that come with ministerial rank. He frequently accepted TACT invitations and spoke at every one of our Conservative party conference events. He had a genuine interest in, and understanding of, issues affecting children in the care system. It is for these reasons he received such high praise on his departure, there are few of his peers likely to enjoy the same.
The ministerial merry go round means that it is common to find a new minister with little understanding of, or indeed interest in, the new brief. There is, therefore, palpable relief in the looked after children’s sector that Tim’s replacement as Children’s Minister is Edward Timpson MP. His own parents fostered for many years and he has adopted siblings. Ever since entering parliament, the new Minister has been entirely committed to children in care and he is the Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Looked After Children and Care Leavers. TACT has no doubt that, like his predecessor, Ed Timpson will be strong voice for looked after children. We hope his superiors in Government listen.