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by Jenni Davidson
18 May 2021
John Swinney appointed cabinet secretary for COVID recovery

John Swinney - Image credit: David Anderson/Holyrood

John Swinney appointed cabinet secretary for COVID recovery

John Swinney has been appointed as the new cabinet secretary for COVID recovery as Nicola Sturgeon begins selecting her new cabinet.

Swinney will move from his previous role as education secretary but continue to be deputy first minister, a position he has held since 2014.

The new role will see Swinney take responsibility for cross-government action on COVID recovery, working with the Scottish Government and wider public, private and third sectors. 

He will chair a cross-party steering group on COVID recovery, which is expected to hold its first meeting next week.

The Deputy First Minister will also take the lead on inter-governmental relations, public service reform, including within government, and the delivery of a number of transformational projects across government and wider society.

These include the incorporation of the UN human rights treaties and the delivery of The Promise to care-experienced young people.

Swinney will be supported by a minister for parliamentary business.

Announcing the appointment, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “Our first priority as a government is to lead the country through the pandemic and into a recovery that supports our NHS, protects and creates jobs, backs our young people and contributes to our ambition to be a net zero nation.

“Appointing John Swinney to drive cross-government work on COVID recovery is a key step in getting Scotland’s recovery off to the right start.  

“How we begin our recovery is crucial to the kind of country we can become, and that means ensuring everyone, whether in government, the public sector, the business community or wider society is pulling in the same direction.”

Swinney said: “Recovery in our schools, our health service, our economy and across our wider society is this government’s immediate priority and I am honoured to have been asked to lead that mission.

“I am determined that government will bring the same urgency that we applied to the actions we took to protect public health, to the actions we need to take to secure a fair and just recovery. 

“I will be bringing opposition parties together next week to hear their contributions and to set out how I believe we can all work together to secure a strong recovery.

“As we recover we must also remember our commitments to improve the lives of people across our society and it is a privilege to continue to lead the work across government to deliver on the incorporation of UN charters and to deliver The Promise for our care experienced young people.”

Further cabinet and ministerial appointments will be made on Wednesday 19 May.

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