Ed Balls has been appointed to head a new Department for Children, Schools and Families in Gordon Brown’s first cabinet, announced today.
Balls, formerly economic secretary at the Treasury and one of Brown’s closest allies, will be responsible for co-ordinating children and families policy across government and education from 0-19. The new department effectively assumes the children’s functions of the now defunct Department for Education and Skills.
Beverley Hughes, who had been minister for children, has had youth justice added to her responsibilities, suggesting the new department may assume responsibility for young offending from the Ministry of Justice, a move which campaigners have long demanded.
Hughes’ status has been elevated by being one of a few non-cabinet ministers who will now attend cabinet meetings.
Former education secretary Alan Johnson has been appointed health secretary, replacing Patricia Hewitt, who resigned yesterday.
Alistair Darling replaces Brown as chancellor and Jack Straw has been given the position of justice secretary and lord chancellor.
Yvette Cooper retains her position as housing minister and, like Hughes, will attend cabinet.