September 8, 2016 : Craig Wilson

Scotland’s programme for government and the third sector

Analysis of the big issues for charities and voluntary organisations

On Tuesday afternoon, First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, delivered her Programme for Government – setting out key pieces of legislation which will be enacted over the forthcoming parliamentary session. She also announced details regarding a series of consultations, funding streams, action plans and strategies.

The document is a weighty 92 pages and covers a range of policy areas, many of which have the potential to transform life in Scotland. There is much for the third sector to get to grips with, and we have undertaken some initial work to break down the key announcements and offer some analysis of what this might mean for our members.

Key themes in Scottish Government plan

With extensive powers being devolved to the Holyrood, MSPs will soon have to grapple with taxation rates and introduce a Social Security Bill to reform and manage some welfare powers. New powers will also allow for gender balance legislation to be introduced.

Of course the constitution is still top of the agenda with a focus on the post-Brexit landscape and plans were unveiled to prepare a Bill for a potential second independence referendum.

Significant announcements on house building, tackling fuel poverty and reducing harmful emissions were also announced. As well as efforts to expand digital connectivity, boost employability and ensure everyone benefits from inclusive growth. Plans to grow and support social enterprises were also laid out.

The Government are staking their reputation on reforming education and set out aims to close the educational attainment gap between the most prosperous and deprived communities. In a welcome move, the Government have established a link between poverty and attainment and outlined efforts to tackle deprivation through a new Child Poverty Bill.

A new 10 year mental health strategy was also announced which will be based on the ‘Ask Once, Get Help Fast’ principles. New legislation will also see domestic abuse laws strengthened to cover psychological abuse, the victims of child abuse will be given additional support to pursue justice and reforms made to female prisoner rehabilitation.

Significant new announcements regarding community empowerment, local democracy and participatory budgeting were also unveiled, including a commitment to see the latter expanded to account for 1% of all local authority spending. The First Minister also set out commitments on human rights in Scotland, with retention of the Human Rights Act a key objective and a desire to meet sustainable development goals and the embed human rights in the policy making process.

Due to the range of topics covered and the short time that has elapsed, our full briefing is a work in progress, and simply aims to keep our members up to date and to raise areas of importance to them. As such, and as always, we look forward to hearing your views on the Programme for Government, including what it means for you, how we can help you engage in the decision making processes to follow and what sections could be strengthened, relaxed, added or removed.

Important: Opinions expressed by bloggers are their own and don't represent those of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations.

by Craig Wilson