Child poverty campaigners have welcomed the creation of a new cabinet-level post with responsibility for tackling social exclusion.
Ex-chief whip Hilary Armstrong MP has been appointed to the role, and will also take responsibility for voluntary and community sector organisations, and social enterprises.
Chief executive of children’s charity NCH, Clare Tickell, welcomed the move. “Britain’s most vulnerable are long overdue a champion at the cabinet table,” she said. “With the recent disappointment of child poverty figures it is essential that this new role is given clout and authority across government in order to make a real and lasting difference to these children’s lives.”
Last week’s reshuffle, which saw former trade and industry secretary Alan Johnson replace Ruth Kelly as education secretary, also saw the departure of schools minister Jacqui Smith.
Smith’s successor is South Dorset MP Jim Knight from the Department for Rural Affairs who. Despite having not previously worked at the Department for Education and Skills, Knight now holds responsibility for overall schools strategy and implementation of the 14-19 White Paper.
The shake-up also sees Parmjit Dhanda replace Maria Eagle as junior minister with responsibility for children, young people and families.
Like Knight, Dhanda is a loyal Blairite and first entered Parliament in 2001. He previously worked at the DfES in 2004 as private secretary to the then schools minister Stephen Twigg.