First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon outlined her programme for government for the forthcoming year today (5 Sept 2017).

Commenting on the announcement, Deputy Chief Executive of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Lucy McTernan said: 

“After a decade in office, the First Minister herself acknowledged that it was time to inject some fresh ideas in to Scottish Government thinking. While there are certainly some welcome steps in that direction today, we now need concrete action to back up the warm rhetoric and deliver the dynamic and radical changes we know are desperately needed to take the country forward.

 “SCVO have long supported pilot schemes to explore the workings of a Citizens’ Basic Income and we welcome the establishment of a new fund to encourage local authorities to do this. This puts Scotland in a select group of pioneering countries and will give us a better understanding of how a minimum income can tackle poverty and help people contribute in different ways at different times – whether as carers, innovators or volunteers. We believe any pilot projects must be designed in conjunction with citizens and we know the third sector can help to facilitate this. 

 “As Brexit poses an unprecedented challenge to the human rights protections we have come to take for granted over the decades, we are also pleased to see the Scottish Government take action to ensure we don’t stand ‘frozen in time’, but continue to lead by example in terms of advancing our collective human rights. With third sector organisations most acutely aware of what human rights mean for different groups all across Scotland, we know their input will be crucial to success.

“Scotland’s voluntary organisations are feeling the pinch at a time when funding is harder to access and demand for support is increasing. We are therefore pleased to see a commitment to rolling three year funding. However, considering this has never fully been realised, despite continual assurances, we remain only cautiously optimistic and look forward to hearing greater detail.”

Highlights of the programme include:

  • Tackling Child Poverty Fund, worth £50 million over the next five years.
  • Rough sleeping and Homelessness Action Group – and a five year £50 million Ending Homelessness Fund
  • Additional £20 million investment in alcohol and drug services
  • Introduce a Warm Homes Bill to set a new statutory fuel poverty target
  • Tackle air pollution by phasing out the need for new diesel/petrol cars by 2032 and establish low emissions zones in Scotland’s four largest cities
  • Introduce a new Climate Change Bill and a deposit return scheme for plastic bottles
  • A doubling of funding for ‘Active Travel’ to £80 million
  • A new fund to help the local authorities interested in funding research into the feasibility of a citizen’s basic income scheme
  • The extension of three year rolling funding (where possible) across the Scottish Government
  • Expert advisory group to explore how Scotland can continue to lead by example in human rights, economic, social, cultural and environmental rights
  • Oppose withdrawal from the Human Rights Act or the European Convention on Human Rights
  • Aim to further embed the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into policy and legislation, including the option of full incorporation into domestic law
  • Supporting proposals to introduce a legislative ban on the physical punishment of children
  • Introduce a Sexual Offences (Pardons and Disregards) Bill to pardon gay men convicted of sex-offences before the legalisation of homosexuality
  • Complete the passage of the Domestic Abuse Bill
  • Implement ‘Frank’s Law’ to provide free personal care to those aged under 65 who need it
  • Introduce a soft opt-out Organ Donation Bill
  • Provide 140 hours of free early learning and childcare to all 3 and 4 year olds by 2020 – providing financial support to deliver this
  • Urgently take forward the Barclay Review and, as a priority, recommendations to introduce a new relief for day nurseries to support childcare provision
  • Ending of the 1% public sector pay cap
  • Budget Bill – alongside a commitment to ‘open discussions’ about making changes to Income Tax
  • Identifying a public body to bid for the next ScotRail franchise contract
  • Launch a comprehensive review of local governance ahead of a Local Democracy Bill later in this Parliament
  • Extend the presumption against short sentences from 3 to 12 months and introduce a Management of Offenders Bill to extend community monitoring
  • Deliver an increase in Carer’s Allowance from summer 2018 – backdating it to April 2018
  • Take forward plans for a Scottish National Investment Bank

ENDS

Notes to editors:

  1. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations is the national body representing the interests of charities, voluntary organisations and social enterprises.  The Scottish third sector turns over £4.5 billion a year and employs 138,000 people in over 45,000 organisations.  For more on SCVO see www.scvo.org.uk 
  2. For more information contact Ann Rowe on 07530 640 014 or ann.rowe@scvo.org.uk