ALMOND Valley MSP Angela Constance has been handed a new Cabinet job in charge of the welfare powers about to be devolved to the Scottish Parliament.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon appointed her to the newly-created post of Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities in the reshuffle following the Holyrood elections.
Ms Constance’s old job as Education Secretary has been given to former Finance Secretary John Swinney in a move signalling the top priority given to education issues, particularly the SNP’s pledge to close the attainment gap. Mr Swinney will also continue as Deputy First Minister.
Taking over as Finance Secretary – with responsibility for the new tax powers coming to Scotland – is former Transport Minister Derek Mackay, while the new role of Economy Secretary goes to Keith Brown, who was previously Infrastructure Secretary.
Linlithgow MSP Fiona Hyslop continues as Secretary for Culture and External Affairs, Shona Robison retains the health portfolio and Michael Matheson stays as Justice Secretary.
Environment and Climate Change will have a dedicated Cabinet Secretary for the first time in Roseanna Cunningham.
Fergus Ewing enters the Cabinet as Secretary for the Rural Economy and Connectivity.
Junior appointments include former Lothian MSP Shirley-Anne Somerville, now elected to represent Dunfermline, as Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science.
The new Transport Minister is Humza Yousaf.
And newly-elected SNP MSP Jeane Freeman, a former adviser to Labour’s last First Minister Jack McConnell, is appointed as Social Security Minister.
Ms Sturgeon said: “The central focus of the Scottish Government I lead will be ensuring that our education system is world class and that every child in Scotland is given the opportunity to fulfil their potential, no matter their background.
“We have set out ambitious plans to close the attainment gap and widen access to higher and further education and I am absolutely delighted to confirm that John Swinney will take this programme forward as the new Cabinet Secretary for Education.
“John’s record is exemplary, overseeing a succession of balanced budgets as well as delivering the recent fiscal framework deal that will underpin the new powers being devolved to the Scottish parliament. His appointment to this crucial role demonstrates how important education is to my government.
“The new Cabinet also reflects my focus on the economy, with three key appointments to implement our economic agenda.
“The new Scottish Government team has the right mixture of experience and fresh ideas and maintains the gender balance that I believe is important. It is the best team to take Scotland forward.”
Appointments will be officially endorsed by MSPs today.