Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice

Shirley-Anne Somerville  MSP



Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice
Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road

Shirley-Anne Somerville was appointed Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice in March 2023.


The Cabinet Secretary is responsible for:

  • development and delivery of Scottish Government benefits
  • Social Security Scotland
  • Scottish Welfare Fund and Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs)
  • benefit automation and advice services
  • social justice, tackling poverty and inequalities
  • national mission for tackling child poverty
  • minimum income guarantee
  • Baby Box
  • human rights
  • UN treaty incorporation including UNCRC
  • third sector, social enterprises and OSCR
  • Office of Chief Social Policy Advisor
  • Ministerial Taskforce on Population

Supporting Ministers


The First Minister has issued mandate letters to all Cabinet Secretaries highlighting how they will collectively deliver on the priorities set out in the Policy Prospectus during the financial year 2023 to 2024. 


Educated at Kirkcaldy High School, she then graduated from the University of Strathclyde with a BA (Hons) in Economics and Politics (1996), followed by a Diploma in Housing Studies at the University of Stirling and a Diploma in Public Relations from Queen Margaret University College.

She has worked as a parliamentary researcher, a Policy and Public Affairs Officer at the Chartered Institute of Housing, and as a Media and Campaigns Officer at the Royal College of Nursing.

Shirley-Anne was previously an MSP for the Lothians region from 2007 to 2011, and returned to the Scottish Parliament in 2016 as MSP for Dunfermline. Shirley-Anne Somerville was previously Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science, and was appointed Cabinet Secretary for Social Security and Older People in June 2018. She was most recently Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills until March 2023.

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