UK - Yvette Cooper, chief secretary to the UK Treasury, is expected to be named later today as work and pensions secretary in a Cabinet reshuffle, following the shock resignation of James Purnell late last night.

A spokesman at Number 10, which is the office of prime minister Gordon Brown, refused to confirm her appointment until the full cabinet reshuffle has been completed later today and Department for Work and Pensions officials are still waiting to hear themselves, yet the BBC said she is understood to have been offered the role.

Cooper (pictured, right) will become the 15th secretary of state to the DWP since the Labour Party formed a government in 1997, though she also held the role of housing minister prior to her move to the Treasury.

Purnell, who was appointed to head the DWP in January last year, stepped down from his Cabinet position late yesterday evening and published a letter in which he attacked Brown by urging him to "stand aside" as prime minister, arguing that he believed Brown's holding of the premier role in government "makes a Conservative victory more, not less likely".

He claimed he is not seeking to pursue the PM role himself, nor was he acting with anyone else. But his was the fifth Cabinet resignation this week, amid talk of a Labour back-bench leadership challenge.

Commenting on the developments, Joanne Segars, chief executive of the National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF), said: "In a week where a number of high-profile defined benefit scheme closures has again cast the spotlight on pension provision, we feel that securing adequate workplace provision for all employees should be at the top of the new Secretary of State's inbox.

"As we set out in our January 2008 Action Plan for pensions, Government has a key role to play in delivering this aim, not least adopting a far more flexible approach to pension regulation that would make it easier for employers to provide pensions in line with modern needs."

She continued: :We look forward to working with the new Secretary of State to achieve this aim, and wish her well in her new role."

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