John Denham has become Labour's new Communities Secretary after Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) will merge with the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR).

"The merger of BERR and DIUS brings together the parts of the government with key expertise in these areas," Downing Street said in a statement.

"It combines BERR’s strengths in shaping the enterprise environment, analysing the strengths and needs of the various parts of British industry, building strategies for industrial strength and expertise in better regulation with DIUS’s expertise in maintaining world class universities, expanding access to higher education, investing in the UK’s science base and shaping skills, policy and innovation through bodies such as the Technology Strategy Board.

"It also puts the UK’s Further Education system and universities closer to the heart of government thinking about building now for the upturn."

The move will see Lord Mandelson taking the reins to "continue to invest in skills through the Further Education system to help people through the downturn and to prepare Britain for the future".

Wes Streeting, President of the National Union of Students (NUS), welcomed the reshuffle.

"NUS would like to welcome the opportunity to work with Lord Mandelson in his new capacity as Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills. We hope that he will be bold in his approach to the forthcoming review of higher education funding and ensure that students have a genuine voice in the coming debate." said Mr Streeting.

He added: "We also look forward to working with the department to ensure that students' access to education and training is prioritised, and that the learner voice is heard in both further education and higher education. Colleges and universities will be vital in meeting future challenges to society and the economy. NUS looks forward to working with Lord Mandelson in facing these challenges."

For more information about the new department, visit: http://www.number10.gov.uk/Page19525

(Pictured: John Denham, former Secretary of State for DIUS)

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