* Mackay: Finance * Brown: Economy

Swinney moved as Mackay and Brown handed key roles

John Swinney head shotDerek MackayJohn Swinney will take charge of the Scottish government’s flagship education agenda in the new Cabinet which sees Derek Mackay succeed the Deputy First Minister at finance and Keith Brown take on the newly-created role of Economy Secretary.

Other Cabinet positions see former business minister Fergus Ewing take on Rural Affairs from Richard Lochhead who informed First Minister Nicola Sturgeon that he wanted to stand down to are for his wife. Former Social Justice Secretary Alex Neil also informed the FM that he would be leaving government.

Angela Constance takes on welfare affairs and Roseanna Cunningham moves to environment.

Michael Matheson remains in charge of justice, Fiona Hyslop retains the culture brief and Shona Robison holds on to health.

Ms Sturgeon has made education a major priority for the new parliament. She said: “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.”

Former transport minister Mr Mackay will have responsibility for the Scottish budget and the new tax and welfare powers being transferred to Holyrood and the role will now stripped of other responsibilities it will take on similar characteristics to that of the Chancellor in London.

Keith Brown 2Mr Brown (right), the former infrastructure secretary, will continue to oversee these projects as Economy Secretary in addition to securing investment and supporting people into work, similar to the UK government’s business secretary.

The new minister for business, innovation and energy is Paul Wheelhouse.

The Federation of Small Businesses‘ head of external affairs for Scotland, Colin Borland, said: “Today’s unnerving job figures underline the importance of appointing a cabinet secretary dedicated to the economy.

“We have long argued that Scotland’s businesses, especially the smallest ones, need a voice at the top table.

“It is therefore absolutely right that someone as experienced and effective as Keith Brown has been given the task of putting the economy at the heart of government decision making.

“There isn’t a single portfolio around that Cabinet table to which business and the economy doesn’t matter – and Mr Brown’s job is to make sure his colleagues’ initiatives dovetail with efforts to create jobs and boost growth.”

David Lonsdale, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: “The First Minister’s decision to appoint a new Scottish Cabinet with a fresh focus on improving Scotland’s economy is positive and welcome.

“The retail industry is currently the largest private sector employer in Scotland, employing a quarter of a million people, and we are very conscious of the challenges facing Scottish businesses. It is encouraging that the First Minster has made clear that the new Cabinet Secretaries for Finance, Economy, and Rural Affairs have a key role to play in helping to develop the Scottish economy.

“Each has a proven track record in government and we very much look forward to working positively and constructively with them to find the best solutions to drive economic growth in Scotland.”

Nicola Barry 2Nicola Barclay (right), chief executive of trade body Homes for Scotland, said: “As housing impacts almost all policy areas, we look forward to working with the First Minister and her new team to help overcome the numerous challenges that affect the delivery of much needed new homes, particularly in relation to planning and the keenly awaited findings of the independent review panel which we understand will be published over the coming weeks.”

The forestry organisation Confor pledged to work with Fergus Ewing in his new rural affairs role to deliver the SNP’s manifesto commitments on tree planting.

Stuart Goodall, chief executive of Confor, which represents almost 2,000 forestry and wood-using businesses, said: “Fergus Ewing has shown that he is knowledgeable and supportive of forestry and wood processing, and he has significant forestry and timber businesses in his Inverness & Nairn constituency.

“We are pleased that forestry is included in the newly-named Rural Economy and Connectivity brief, which reflects its significance as a £1 billion industry employing more than 25,000 people.

“We now look forward to working with Fergus Ewing to deliver on the commitments to plant 10,000 hectares of new woodland every year to 2022 [around 22 million trees annually] and to speed up the pace of application and approval of planting.”


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