Vuelio’s Thomas Stevenson summarises the key announcements in Nicola Sturgeon’s latest ‘Programme for Government’ published this week. It kicks off a crucially important period in Holyrood politics, in the run-up to the Scottish Parliament elections next year, the result of which could decide if there is another Scottish independence referendum or not.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon delivered her latest Programme for Government on Tuesday 1 September. Entitled ‘Protecting Scotland, Renewing Scotland’, it sets out the actions the Scottish Government will be taking in the next year, ahead of the elections to the Scottish Parliament in May 2021.
As Sturgeon said in her speech: ‘This is not a normal, business as usual, Programme for Government’. Some measures announced, such as the new proximity tracking app, ‘Protect Scotland’, are aimed at minimising the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic going forward. Others, such as some of those for schools and the NHS, are aimed at restoring services which have been disrupted by the pandemic.
Another category of measure includes those aimed at taking advantage of changes in behaviour forced by the current situation, such as improving homelessness services and the use of digital technology in healthcare. Many measures, however, are focused on delivering a recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. These include those aimed at delivering employment, such as the National Transitional Training Fund and the Green Jobs Fund, the £500m to be allocated to active travel, and measures to deliver a net zero economy and zero carbon housing.
Sturgeon also confirmed that, before the end of the Parliament, a draft Bill would be published on a new independence referendum. It would set out the terms, timing and question wording to be used by such a referendum.
The Vuelio political team has summarised the announcements made and confirmed in the Programme for Government below, under the three sub-sections it uses.
A National Mission to Create New Jobs, Good Jobs and Green Jobs
Employment and Skills:
- A £60m Youth Guarantee, giving all 16-24-year-olds an opportunity to study at university or college, take up an apprenticeship, job or work experience opportunity, or take part in a volunteering or training programme. This will be supported by an investment of up to £10m in Developing the Young Workforce (DYW) Regional Groups and £10m for up to 8500 people to complete or start an apprenticeship.
- A £100m package of support for those looking for work or at risk of redundancy because of COVID-19. This includes a £25m National Transition Training Fund to support up to 10,000 people, doubling funding for the Flexible Workforce Development Fund to £20m and working with interested parties to ensure training provision is more targeted.
- A £100m Green Jobs fund will be created over the next five years.
- Nature and land-based apprenticeship schemes in public agencies will be expanded, including doubling the commitments to young people by Scottish Forestry, Forestry and Land Scotland and NatureScot.
- A Green Workforce and Skills Development package will be developed, based on analysis by NatureScot of the nature-based jobs needed for the net-zero transition.
- The Scottish Government will work with employers to expand the real Living Wage, will put an additional £2.35m in the Parental Employability Support Fund, and extend Fair Start Scotland services for disabled people until March 2023.
- As part of the ‘No One Left Behind’ agenda to support those who face significant barriers to employment, a Shared Measurement Framework for collecting data, a Customer Charter and National Standards Guarantee will be produced. A recruitment toolkit to increase ethnic minority recruitment will be published in September and actions from the ‘Fairer Scotland for Women: Gender Pay Gap Action Plan’ will be reviewed.
- TimeWise will develop a ‘fair, flexible work programme’ by the end of March 21, supporting 300 employers to adapt to flexible working and recruiting advisers to help 1000 more employers and 1000 individuals. The scope for a new centre for workplace transformation will be assessed, while the Productivity Club Pilots are to be expanded, growing from two to five.
- A national network of ‘Tech Scalers’ (start-up incubators) is to be established.
- A public-private Ecosystem Fund to make strategic investments will be created.
- The Digital Action Plan is to be updated to accelerate the transformation of digital public services.
- A Digital Strategy for Planning will be published in November
- An additional £23m is to be committed to provide a digital and data safety net to digitally-excluded people and households.
- £1.6bn is being invested in heat and energy efficiency programmes, with an aim of increasing renewable heat installations from 2000 in 2020 to 64,000 in 2025. A new funding call for the £50m Green Recovery Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme for low carbon and renewable heat projects will open in September, and at least £95m will be invested in decarbonising the public sector estate.
- A draft Heat Policy Statement and refreshed Energy Efficient Scotland Route Map will be published by the end of the year, with an expert group established to make recommendations for a heat pump sector deal.
- A consultation will be launched on requiring new buildings to use renewable or low emission heat from 2024.
Green Investment and Businesses:
- A £3bn Green Investment Portfolio will be launched to secure global investment in Scotland.
- £60m will be invested in supporting the industrial and manufacturing sectors through the green recovery, via a £24m Scottish Industrial Energy Transformation Fund and a £26m Low Carbon Manufacturing Challenge Fund.
- A Grangemouth Future Industry Board will be established, recognising the area’s economic importance and its contribution towards Scotland’s emissions.
- Carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS) will be supported and research commissioned. Working with North East CCUS, a Scottish Net Zero Roadmap will be worked on in 2021. A consultation will take place on a £5m Carbon Capture and Utilisation Challenge Fund.
- A refreshed Energy Strategy and updated Offshore Wind Policy Statement will be published.
- £6.9m will be allocated to Scotia Gas Network’s H100 hydrogen heating project in Fife, and a Hydrogen policy Statement and Hydrogen Action Plan will be produced.
- A Scottish Health and Industry Partnership is to be established, and Supply Chain Development Programmes will be rolled out in key economic sectors.
- The Scottish Government will use its buying influence to establish a zero emission heavy duty vehicle programme, establish a zero emission drivechain testing facility and support research and development in zero emission mobility. It will also produce tools to use procurement to support a green recovery.
Environment and Agriculture:
- £100m will be invested in increasing new planting by Scottish Forestry, with £30m for Forestry and Land Scotland to expand forests and land. £20m will be invested in increasing tree nursery capacity.
- The Scottish Land Commission will produce advice on factoring land into economic thinking.
- The rate of peatland restoration will be increased.
- The Biodiversity Challenge Fund will have £3m in 202-21 and a high-level statement of intent on biodiversity will be published by the end of the year.
- Recommendations will be made on new agricultural support mechanisms.
- The Scottish Land Matching Service will be extended to bring vacant crofts into use.
- The third Land Use Strategy will be published
- Work will take place to establish a statutory national Nitrogen Balance Sheet.
- A joint recovery plan for the food and drink industry will be launched, and a new agriculture producer organisations created.
- A Blue Economy Action Plan will be developed.
- A £70m fund to improve local authority waste collection infrastructure will be established, and the Household Recycling Charter will be evaluated.
- The Scottish Government will work with local authorities and deposit return scheme administrators to unlock investment in reprocessing.
- The carrier bag charge will be increased from 5p to 10p, a consultation will be launched on banning some plastic items, and charging for single-use beverage cups.
- Public bodies will be required to set a date for becoming net-zero emitters.
- The first meeting of a citizens’ assembly on climate change will take place in the autumn.
- Regional hubs will allow communities to develop local solutions to reach net-zero, with a network of Climate Action Towns.
- An extra £150m will be invested in flood risk management and £12m in coastal change adaptation.
Trade, Investment and Migration:
- By the end of 2020, the Scottish Government will publish its vision for trade and ‘A Trading Nation’ (the export growth plan) will be refreshed in 2021.
- An inward investment plan (‘Shaping Scotland’s Economy’) will be published this year, with a capital investment plan to follow in 2021
- A Population Strategy will be published in 2021, the Stay in Scotland campaign for those in the EU Settlement Scheme will be maintained and a Welcome to Scotland resource for migrants will be launched.
- Proposals for a rural migration pilot will be developed and published.
- £2m of the International Development Fund will be ringfenced for COVID-19 efforts this year.
Local Economies, Third Sector and Social Enterprise:
- Local community wealth building action plans will be developed for five more areas.
- Funding will be provided for a new Scottish Land Fund.
- £1m more will be given to the Scotland Loves Local campaign.
- Part of the Communities Fund will become a £25m Community and Third Sector Recovery Programme. Other social investment, such as capital loans, will be explored.
- A new Social Enterprise Action Plan and new Credit Union Strategy will be launched.
- The process of revising Charity Law will be restarted.
- A £2m Green Recovery Programme for the islands will be established.
Promoting Lifelong Health and Wellbeing
- A proximity app to identify COVID-19 contacts, ‘Protect Scotland’, will launch this month.
- Seasonal flu vaccination will be extended to social care workers, those aged 55 and older, those in a household where someone is shielding, and those aged 50 and over (depending on supplies).
- There will be a Framework for Rehabilitation and Recovery and Respiratory Care Action Plan for Scotland.
- Actions will be taken based on the recommendations of the Expert Reference Group on COVID-19 and Ethnicity.
- More elective capacity will be provided by the National Elective Centre Programme.
- A Women’s Health Plan will be developed.
- A new national body on infection prevention and control will be established in spring 2021.
- A national cancer recovery plan will be published in the autumn. A new lung cancer awareness campaign will be launched as part of the ‘Detect Cancer Early’ programme.
- A Recovery Framework for Pain Management Services and a Framework for Chronic Pain Service Delivery will be published.
- The digital health and care strategy will be refreshed, and a data strategy for health and social care created.
- ‘Near Me’ video consultations will be made the default option, with an aim for all appropriate consultations to be provided via this service or telephone, with its use in social care also developed.
- A digital monitoring solution for COVID-19 suffers will be rolled-out.
- Digital cognitive behavioural therapy services will be expanded and developed.
- A&E services are to be redesigned, encouraging people to be assessed by phone first.
- Community health services are to be bolstered.
- More clinical conditions will be added to the Pharmacy First service, more community link workers will be recruited, and more mental health workers will be recruited.
- NHS dental and eye care service reforms will be accelerated.
- An independent review of adult social care is being launched immediately, reporting by January 2021, and recommending improvements to services. A number of immediate improvements will also be made.
- The capacity of services to support carers will be increased, with £11.6m to implement the Carers (Scotland) Act.
Health and Social Care Staff:
- The Scottish Government is working with unions on a timetable for 2021-22 pay deal.
- A national race equality network with annual targets will be established.
- £5m will be provided for a Health and Social Care Mental Health Network and to expand digital resources for staff. Additional funding will be given to provide therapeutic intervention for staff, with a Workforce Specialist Service
- A Patient Safety Commissioner will be established.
- A targeted approach will be taken to improve healthy eating for those on low incomes, with legislation on Restricting Food Promotions, and work to increase participation in physical activity, including social prescribing.
- A Recovery Framework for Sexual Health and Blood Borne Viruses will be developed.
- The Scottish Government will consult on drug law reform to make temporary arrangements for Naloxone distribution to people at risk of opioid overdose permanent.
- There will be a consultation on restricting alcohol and e-cigarette promotion, restricting e-cigarettes and removing smoking from outside hospitals.
- A Mental Health Transition and Recovery Plan will be published.
- The National Trauma Training Programme will be expanded for two more years.
- Action on women and girls’ mental health will be taken, working with women’s organisations.
- The Distress Brief Intervention will be extended for a transitional period to 2024.
- Mental Health Assessment Centres will be retained and developed.
- A new suicide public awareness campaign is to be launched.
- A number of measures will be taken to support children and young people, including digital support and provision of school counsellors.
- A recovery plan and programme for mental health services will be developed.
- A Personality Disorder Managed Network will be established and a Brain Health and Dementia Prevention Strategy will be published.
Promoting Equality and Helping Our Young People Grasp Their Potential
Benefits and Debt:
- The Scottish Child Payment will be introduced, paying £10 a week for each eligible child, starting with children under 6. Applications will start in November 2020, with the first payments for those eligible will be made from February 2021.
- Payments of Child Winter Heating Assistance will start this winter.
- £2.4m is being made available for debt advice.
- The Scottish Government will work to promote affordable credit.
- The Best Start programme will transform maternity and neonatal services.
- COVID-19 led to the Scottish Government missing its childcare commitments; it will now work to set a date for full implementation by the end of the year.
- A framework for school age childcare will be delivered.
- £50m is being given to local authorities in order to help deliver a safe return to school.
- £30m is being invested to provide laptops to disadvantaged children.
- Guidance will be produced on pandemic-related issues, including remote learning and prioritising the curriculum during the recovery period.
- An Equality Audit will assess the impact of the pandemic on children from disadvantaged backgrounds.
- The recommendations of Angela Morgan’s independent review of additional support for learning will be implemented.
- A new mental heath training and learning resources for all school staff will be delivered.
- £3m will be allocated to a Youth Work for Education Recovery Fund.
- In additional to the independent review into the awarding of qualifications this year, another review will take place of the broader assessment approach in Scotland.
- A second phase of new schools projects will be announced as part of a £1bn Learning Estate Investment Programme.
- The Scottish Government will continue to work to implement the recommendations of the Independent Commission on Widening Access, and to develop a School Engagement Framework.
- A student income and expenditure survey will be carried out.
- A lifelong learning strategy to integrate youth and adult learning into the wider education and skills system will be developed.
- £4m is being invested in the Promise Partnership for holistic family support
- Kinship carers will be better supported, the recovery plan for the Children’s Hearing System will be implemented, and revised National Guidance for Child Protection will be published.
- A redress scheme for historical child abuse in residential care will be legislated for.
- A new Bill will incorporate the UN Convention on the Rights of Children into Scots law.
- The Housing to 2040 Vision and Principles and Route Map are to be published later this year.
- An accord will be agreed between the Scottish Government and the construction industry.
- The quality of Scottish Government grant-funded homes will be improved, with guidance on the use of offsite construction, outdoor and home working space, and digitally enabled social housing.
- The current hosing adaptation system will be reviewed.
- The use of night shelter and dormitory provision for the homeless should end and be replaced with Rapid Rehousing Welcome Centres. A six-month pilot project to provide settled accommodation for those currently living in Edinburgh hotels will be funded.
- An updated Ending Homelessness Together Action Plan will be published
- Guidance on discretionary housing payments will be strengthened, and funding will be increased by £3m.
- A £10m Tenant Hardship Loan Fund will be established legislation preventing evictions will be extended for up to six months.
- Homelessness prevention pathways will be implemented and the requirement for those facing homelessness to have a local connection will be removed.
- A review of purpose-built student accommodation will take place.
- Local authorities will be given powers to license short-term lets and introduce control areas.
Equality and Human Rights:
- An equality and human rights mainstreaming strategy will be developed.
- The First Minister’s National Taskforce for Human Rights Leadership will work on incorporating the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women into legislation and consider incorporating the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled People and the UN Convention on Racial Discrimination.
- Funding for the Scottish Human Rights Defenders Fellowship will be increased.
- Access to free period products will be enshrined into law.
- A £13m Delivering Equally Safe Fund will support prevention and early intervention for women and children at risk of violence and abuse.
- A review of past and present initiatives to tackle systemic racism will take place.
- The Scottish Government will work with local authorities to make sure local housing strategies reflect challenges faced by minority ethnic communities.
- An independent expert group will make recommendations on reflecting Scotland’s colonial and slavery history in museums and society.
- A Minority Ethnic Leadership and Development Programme will be established.
- An anti-destitution strategy will be published to support those affected by no recourse to public funds.
Transport and Planning:
- The Scottish Government will promote the idea of the ’20-minute neighbourhood’.
- The Town Centre Action Plan is being reviewed.
- Through a Place Based Investment Programme, £275m will be invested in community-led regeneration. The Empowering Communities Programme will strengthen community anchor organisations and create more shared space local working hubs.
- £500m over five years is to be committed to active travel.
- Local authorities will be able to turn temporary infrastructure projects implemented during the pandemic into permanent schemes.
- Engagement on the future of transport will take place with young people and work has begun to deliver free bus travel for under-19s.
- Scotland’s Road Safety Framework to 2030 will be published.
- Work will take place to introduce more low emission zones and a new air quality strategy will be consulted on.
- The Scottish Government will work with stakeholders to tackle the backlog of court cases caused by COVID-19.
- Action will be taken to support the use of community interventions rather than short sentences.
- The prison estate will be modernised, with replacements for HMP Barlinnie and HMP inverness, and a new female custodial estate.
- The recommendations of Lady Dorrian’s Review of the management of sexual offences will be considered.
- The Fireworks Action Plan will be taken forward, with a public awareness campaign before bonfire night, and tighter legislation on fireworks considered.
- Further consultation on dangerous dogs will take place.
The following new bills are to be introduced in the forthcoming parliamentary year:
- Budget Bill
- Domestic Abuse Bill
- The UNCRC (Incorporation) Bill
- University of St. Andrews (Degrees in Medicine and Dentistry) Bill
The following existing bills will be progressed in the forthcoming parliamentary year:
- Defamation and Malicious Publication Bill
- Forensic Medical Services (Victims of Sexual Offences) Bill
- Hate Crime and Public Order Bill
- Heat Networks Bill
- Redress for Survivors (Historical Child Abuse in Care) Bill
- Social Security Administration and Tribunal Membership Bill
- UK Withdrawal from the European Union (Continuity) Bill