Cabinet Secretary for Social Security and Older People

Current role holder: Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP

Shirley-Anne Somerville  MSP

Shirley-Anne Somerville was appointed Cabinet Secretary for Social Security and Older People in June 2018.


The Cabinet Secretary is responsible for:

  • welfare policy, social security
  • measures against poverty (with CSCLG)
  • Best Start Grant (replacing the UK Government's Sure Start Maternity Grant)
  • Funeral Expense Assistance (replacing the UK Government's Funeral Payment)
  • Carers Allowance (at which point we will stop paying Carers Allowance Supplement)
  • Young Carers Grant
  • Personal Independence Payments
  • Disability Living Allowance
  • Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Severe Disablement Allowance
  • Cold Weather Payments
  • Winter Fuel Payments

Supporting Minister

As the Minister for Older People and Equalities is currently on medical leave, the Cabinet Secretary has additional responsibilities.

These are:

  • mainstreaming equality
  • human rights
  • older people equality
  • disability equality
  • race equalities
  • women and gender equality
  • violence against women and girls
  • LGBTI equality
  • social isolation and loneliness



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 appointed Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science in May 2016.