Alex Neil is cabinet secretary for social justice

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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has created a Scotland's first cabinet role specifically for social justice, including the third sector

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21st November 2014 by Susan Smith 0 Comments

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced that Alex Neil will be the new minister responsible for the third sector as part of his role as Cabinet secretary for social justice, communities and pensioners rights.

The new post is the first Scottish cabinet role to cover social justice specifically and has been welcomed by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO).

Who's made it into Nicola Sturgeon's new cabinet

Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Constitution and Economy – John Swinney MSP

  • This portfolio will include a Minister for Business, Energy & Tourism and a Minister for Parliamentary Business.

Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Investment and Cities – Keith Brown MSP

  • This portfolio will include a Minister for Transport.

Cabinet Secretary for Fair Work, Skills and Training – Roseanna Cunningham MSP

  • This portfolio will include a Minister for Youth & Women’s Employment.

Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning - Angela Constance MSP

  • This portfolio will include a Minister for Children & Young People and a Minister for Learning, Science & Scotland’s Islands and Languages

Cabinet Secretary for Health, Wellbeing and Sport – Shona Robison MSP

  • This portfolio will include a Minister for Public Health and a Minister for Sport and Health Improvement.

Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Communities and Pensioners’ Rights – Alex Neil MSP

  • This portfolio will include a Minister for Local Government & Community Empowerment and a Minister for Housing & Welfare.

Cabinet Secretary for Justice – Michael Matheson MSP

  • This portfolio will include a Minister for Community Safety & Legal Affairs

Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Food and Environment – Richard Lochhead MSP

  • This portfolio will include a Minister for Environment, Climate Change & Land Reform

Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Europe and External Affairs – Fiona Hyslop MSP

  • This portfolio will include a Minister for Europe & International Development

Law Officers

Lord Advocate – Frank Mulholland

Solicitor General – Lesley Thompson

The First Minister has confirmed that the Lord Advocate and the Solicitor General will continue to serve.

Alongside the third sector and the social economy, the cabinet secretary will be responsible for democratic renewal, elections, community empowerment, community planning, local government, planning, building standards, business improvement districts, town centres, housing, welfare, measures against poverty and homelessness, equality, social and human rights, religious and faith organisations and cross-government co-ordination on pensioners’ rights and welfare.

The portfolio will also include a minister for local government and community empowerment and a minister for housing and welfare.

John Downie, director of public affairs at SCVO, which advocates on behalf of the third sector in Scotland, said that bringing these responsibilities together in a single cabinet role will create the coherent force Scotland’s fight against poverty needs.

He said: “Congratulations to Alex Neil in his new post as Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Communities and Pensioners Rights.

“SCVO is delighted to see new First Minister create a cabinet post for social justice. It is a bold move and it is right to put tackling poverty and equality at the heart of Scottish government policies and actions.

“Alex knows the strengths and capabilities of the third sector well from his previous roles and we look forward to working with him in the future.”

Sturgeon’s new cabinet was also heraled a victory for equality as she announced the first 50-50 gender split.

As the First Minister unveiled her the new posts, she made it clear she was taking the opportunity to make progress on equal representation for women.

She said: “This new cabinet is a team of all the talents, which will take forward this government’s priorities for Scotland.

“The aims of my government are clear: to create a nation that is both socially democratic and socially just, a nation that is confident in itself and governed effectively and a nation which will address poverty, support business, promote growth and tackle inequality.”

She continued: “The cabinet line-up is also a clear demonstration that this government will work hard in all areas to promote women, to create gender equality and it sends out a strong message that we will start the business of redressing the gender balance in public life starts right here in government.

“I said earlier this week that we will leading by example on equal representation, and encourage others to follow by addressing low pay and improving childcare. The cabinet appointments I have made today will ensure these issues have the highest priority.”

Equality organisation Engender commended Sturgeon for the move.

Jill Wood, policy manager at Engender, said: "We warmly welcome the move to gender parity in the Cabinet and Nicola Sturgeon's broader commitment to prioritise gender equality as First Minister. Lack of political will is a major reason for the glacial rate of progress that we witness on gender issues, and this is an extremely promising signal. 

"We hope that measures to encourage equal representation throughout parliament, local government and political parties will follow. This will be one key way the Scottish Government can deliver on its pledge to tackle women's inequality."