Wales places new ministry in charge of voluntary sector

Governmental responsibility for the voluntary sector in Wales has been passed to a single new ministry following elections to the national assembly earlier this month.

Former finance minister Edwina Hart was given the new portfolio of social justice and regeneration in the nine-member cabinet announced by first minister Rhodri Morgan last week.

Her brief includes the voluntary sector, the social economy and the regeneration programme Communities First, as well as responsibility for youth justice, housing and equality.

Previously, relations with the voluntary sector were split between Hart's finance ministry and the health ministry under Jane Hutt.

Graham Benfield, chief executive of the Wales Council for Voluntary Action, said: "This is a very positive move on the Assembly Government's part as it brings together issues at the heart of civil society. The new structure will provide an exciting opportunity for the minister and the Assembly to strengthen links with the 30,000 voluntary and community groups which have a crucial role in advancing social justice in Wales."

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