All change : new Cabinet and Ministers for the Scottish Government.

BEFS Director gives a brief overview of the recent changes to the Scottish Government Cabinet and Ministerial roles.

Almost all the roles within the Cabinet and Ministerial responsibilities have changed, whether small tweaks, or wholesale transformation. It is not the intention for this blog to interrogate all the changes made, but instead to focus on where BEFS expects existing built environment interests to be represented. As ever BEFS recommends you examine full details of changes as they relate to your own organisation or remit.

It is of note that Deputy First Minister & Cab. Sec. for Finance (Shona Robison) previously had responsibilities including housing; now her remit includes responsibility for cross-government delivery and outcomes, including the National Performance Framework; Scottish Futures Trust; and the Scottish Government’s estate strategy itself. Ms Robison will also have budget responsibility for local government finance.

The new Minister for Culture, Europe and International Development is Christina McKelvie, this portfolio itself is not significantly changed. Within the built environment we can see responsibility for national towns of culture; Historic Environment Scotland; architecture, place and built heritage; as well as wider cultural policy more generally.  The Cab. Sec. for Constitution, External Affairs and Culture remains as Angus Robertson, he retains responsibility for (amongst other things) National Records of Scotland.

The previous Minister for Culture has moved into a Cabinet Secretary position, with a new remit within government, including Wellbeing Economy, Fair Work and Energy. In his new role, Neil Gray (with we hope memory of the importance of the historic environment and related skills) has responsibility for wellbeing economy and inclusive growth; cities investment and strategy; City Centre Recovery Taskforce; City and Regional Growth Deals; as well as long-term labour market strategy.

One of the Ministers’ supporting this role is Richard Lochhead – Minister for Small Business, Innovation and Trade. This title has altered in this iteration, with Tourism being dropped from all titles; and in initial information released, not appearing within responsibilities. Tourism now sits as a sector responsibility here with ‘tourism and hospitality’ linked. Mr Lochhead also has responsibility for digital economy and strategy.

Turning to planning, this has been moved into a Ministerial portfolio for Local Government Empowerment and Planning, in his new role within government, Joe FitzPatrick’s responsibilities involve: local government; planning and National Planning Framework 4 (NPF4); town centre regeneration including business improvement districts; regeneration policy and the place-based investment programme; as well as retail policy, recovery and strategy.

Previously planning had sat with Community Wealth. Community Wealth this now sits with Public Finance and remains (in its altered form) with Tom Arthur as Minister whose role covers: community wealth and community empowerment; community wealth building; cross government delivery of 20-minute neighbourhoods; Registers of Scotland and (slightly vaguely) property.

With wider place related responsibility we find Mairi Gougeon as Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Land Reform and Islands (Land Reform being an addition to this portfolio. Ms Gougeon’s responsibilities include land reform and land use; forestry and woodlands, including Forestry and Land Scotland and Scottish Forestry; Scottish Land Commission; and Crown Estate Scotland.

BEFS advocacy often centres around Net Zero, so expects to be briefing the new Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero and Just Transition (Energy has been separated out), Màiri McAllan; Ms McAllan’s remit covers: cross government co-ordination of net zero policy; climate crisis and environmental protection; Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA); and sustainable development. Green economy responsibilities also include: green Jobs for the future; low carbon economy; Green Jobs Fund; Heat and Energy Efficiency Scotland agency and decarbonisation of buildings. This Cab. Sec. role is supported by Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity, Lorna Slater – with responsibility for green industrial strategy and green skills. Within this department we also have remaining in role Patrick Harvie as Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings, Active Travel and Tenants’ Rights. Mr Harvie’s role covers: energy efficiency; heat networks; heating and domestic energy transformation; Heat in Buildings programme and building standards.

Sitting beneath the Cab. Sec. role for Education and Skills (Jenny Gilruth) we find Minister for Higher and Further Education; and Minister for Veterans – Graeme Dey whose remit covers: Developing the Young Workforce; apprenticeships; higher education and universities; further education and colleges; qualifications and accreditation; Skills Development Scotland and the Scottish Funding Council (SFC).

Due to the current Parliamentary recess there is diminished government activity at this time, but BEFS will continue to monitor any related impacts to parliamentary Committees, as well as any portfolio budget changes from the realignment and changes to Cabinet roles and departments.

Other significant areas of note are:

  • Minister for Energy (another new role) sees Gillian Martin have responsibility for energy policy and strategy.
  • Minister for Housing – a new role within government, Paul McLenan has the Housing to 2040 strategy within his remit; as well as regulation of existing housing systems.
  • The NHS estate falling within the remit of Michael Matheson in his role as Cab. Sec. for NHS Recovery, Health and Social Care.
  • Shirley-Anne Somerville as Cab. Sec. for Social Justice also has responsibility for the third sector, social enterprises and OSCR.