Focus on Education at the heart of Nicola Sturgeon Cabinet reshuffle

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Alex Orr @alex_m_orr

Nicola Sturgeon has put a clear focus on education and young people in her Cabinet reshuffle.

Deputy First Minister and trusted ally, John Swinney, replaces Angela Constance as Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills. The latter becomes Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities, which will also include responsibility for welfare reform.

Seen as a safe and highly competent pair of hands Mr Swinney, Finance Secretary for nine years, will spearhead the key Scottish Government objective of closing the educational attainment gap, at the heart of the SNP’s ambitions for the next Parliamentary term and on which Ms Sturgeon has staked her personal reputation.

Mr Swinney will also have responsibility for public sector reform across the government as well as the “named person” legislation.

Two long-standing ministers – Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead and Social Justice Minister Alex Neil – announced ahead of the reshuffle that they were stepping down from the cabinet.

This gave some latitude to the newly sworn in First Minister to appoint former Transport Minister, Derek MacKay, into the role of Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Constitution, a Chancellor of the Exchequer style role given the new tax powers coming to the Scottish Parliament. Previously this role was held by John Swinney, but his portfolio has been split in two, with Mr MacKay taking finance and Keith Brown as Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Jobs and Fair Work.

Fergus Ewing, the former Energy Minister and supporter of fracking, is given the role of Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy and Connectivity and Paul Wheelhouse takes over his former role, becoming Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy.

A new post of Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform has been formed and will be filled by Roseanna Cunningham MSP, while Shona Robison remains at Health, Michael Matheson at Justice and Fiona Hyslop at Culture and External affairs.

Humza Yousaf, the previous Europe Minister, has been given Mr MacKay’s former role as Minister for Transport and the Islands and a new post of mental health minister has been created, to be held by Maureen Watt. Alasdair Allan will take over from Mr Yousaf as Minister for International Development and Europe.

Shirley-Anne Somerville, becomes Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science, reporting to Mr Swinney.

There is also a role for newly elected MSP, Jeane Freeman, a former special adviser to Jack McConnell, as Minister for Social Security, while Kevin Stewart takes over as Minister for Local Government and Housing.

New Cabinet with portfolio responsibilities

First Minister: Nicola Sturgeon MSP

Head of the Scottish Government: responsible for development, implementation and presentation of Government policy, constitutional affairs, and for promoting and representing Scotland.

Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills: John Swinney MSP

Government Strategy, Delivery and outcomes across portfolios, Resilience, School standards, Educational attainment and closing the attainment gap, National Improvement Framework, Quality and improvement, Teaching profession, School infrastructure and staffing, Qualifications, Behaviour, Measures to combat bullying, The Gaelic and Scots languages, Modern languages, Historical Abuse Inquiry, Named person, Cross Government co-ordination of Public Service Reform, Childcare implementation, Early years, Child protection, Social services workforce, Adoption and Fostering, Children’s rights, Looked after children, Children’s hearings, Protection of vulnerable groups, Children’s services, Widening Access, Higher education and universities, Further education and colleges, Student funding, Science and STEM, Youth work, Skills Development Scotland, Implementation of Wood recommendations.

Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Constitution: Derek Mackay MSP

Scottish Budget, Fiscal policy, Taxation, Budgetary monitoring and reporting, Scottish Public Finances and their sustainability, Public sector pay and pensions, Scottish Futures Trust, Efficient government, Public Bodies Policy, National Performance Framework, Registers of Scotland, Government procurement, Digital Public Services, Constitution.

Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport: Shona Robison MSP

NHS, Elective centres, Health care and social integration, Carers, Adult care and support, Implementing 2020 Vision and National Clinical Strategy, Patient services, NHS staff and pay, Problem alcohol use and recovery, Healthy working lives, National service planning, NHS performance, Acute services, Sporting events and legacy, Patient safety, Quality strategy, Public health, Health protection, Sport and physical activity, Primary care, Mental health, Allied healthcare services, Dentistry, Sexual health, medical records, Health improvement, Drugs policy, Child and maternal health.

Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform: Roseanna Cunningham MSP

Climate Change, Flood prevention, water quality, Land reform, Physical and marine environment, Sustainable development, Biodiversity, Natural heritage, Environmental protection, Environmental and climate justice, National parks, Scottish Water.

Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs: Fiona Hyslop MSP

Culture and the arts, Broadcasting, Architecture, Built heritage, National identity, Cross government co-ordination on bringing major events to Scotland, National records, Fair trade, Tourism, International development, Cross-government co-ordination on European Union and international relations, Scottish diaspora.

Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities: Angela Constance MSP

Welfare policy, Community empowerment, Devolution to Communities and Reform of Local Government, Equalities, Religious and faith organisations, Protection and development of Social and Human Rights, Third sector and social economy, Democratic renewal, Local government, Housing, Homelessness, Community planning, Planning, Business improvement districts, Town centres, Building standards, Social security, Implementation of new powers, Measures against poverty, Disabilities, Older people.

Cabinet Secretary for Justice: Michael Matheson MSP

The Justice system, Criminal Law procedure, Civil law, Police, Fire and Rescue services, Legal profession, Violence reduction, Anti-sectarianism, Courts, Sentencing, Security, Human rights, Access to justice, Community safety, Anti-social behaviour, Prisons and prisoners, Female offenders, Criminal justice social work, Victims and witnesses, Reducing reoffending, Youth justice, Liquor licensing.

Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Jobs and Fair Work: Keith Brown MSP

The Scottish Economy, Infrastructure Investment Policy, Scottish Enterprise, Trade & Inward Investment, Innovation, internationalisation, increasing productivity, Fair work and inclusive growth, Labour market strategy, Living wage, European Structural funds, Infrastructure Investment Policy, Consumer advocacy and advice, Employment policy, Trades Unions, Bankruptcy policy and Accountant in Bankruptcy (AIB), Business, Industry and Manufacturing, Cities, Energy and energy consent, Regional Economic Forums, Life sciences, Financial services, Low carbon economy, Renewable energy industries,Youth and Women’s Employment, Employability programmes

Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy and Connectivity: Fergus Ewing MSP

Rural Scotland, Highlands Islands Enterprise, Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, Aquaculture, Food and drink, Crofting, Transport, Connectivity including 100 per cent broadband.

The full Scottish ministerial team is completed by the appointment of the following ministers:

Minister for Childcare and Early Years

Mark McDonald

Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science

Shirley-Anne Somerville

Minister for Parliamentary Business

Joe FitzPatrick

Minister for Transport and the Islands

Humza Yousaf

Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy

Paul Wheelhouse

Minister for Employability and Training

Jamie Hepburn (Reporting to cabinet secretaries for economy and education)

Minister for Public Health and Sport

Aileen Campbell

Minister for Mental Health

Maureen Watt

Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs

Annabelle Ewing

Minister for Local Government & Housing

Kevin Stewart

Minister for Social Security

Jeane Freeman

Minister for International Development and Europe

Alasdair Allan

 

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