The Scottish Government has set it out its plans for helping the country bounce back from Covid-19
Scotland’s voluntary sector has responded to the newly published Programme for Government.
The Scottish Government has set out its plans for the next five years, which focus around creating a fairer and greener Scotland.
The plans include a commitment to create a multi-year funding model, in response to organisations facing uncertainty in receiving annual grants and often not receiving information on whether they will be renewed until the last minute.
The plan states: “Key to the resilience of our communities has been the work of Scotland’s third sector. Building on the learning from the pandemic we will use our Strengthening Collaboration commitment with SCVO and Cosla to progress further a multi‑year funding model.
“We will work with Third Sector Interfaces, who act as a single point of access for support and advice for third sector organisations in their local area, to strengthen their influence, and revise their funding formula to give more support to the areas of highest deprivation.”
Legislation to revamp the Charity Law will also be brought forward.
Other items proposed on the back of voluntary sector campaigns include a consultation on abolishing the not proven verdict, the introduction of a Good Food Nation Bill and a proposed Fireworks and Pyrotechnics Bill.
There is a focus on helping the health service recover from the pandemic, and on the creation of a new National Care Service.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also confirmed work on making the case for independence will also be stepped up.
The programme stopped short of guaranteeing when the Scottish Child Payment will be doubled to £20, with child poverty campaigners saying urgent action is needed to help families most in need.
Director of the Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland, John Dickie, said: “Commitments on childcare and tackling the costs of the school day are vital to ending child poverty but really must be accompanied by an increase in the direct cash support that families need to provide for their children. The £10 per week Scottish Child Payment provides vital support to thousands of children across Scotland. However there is no credible route to meeting the government’s own child poverty targets that does not involve at least doubling its value in the coming year.
“All eyes are now on the Scottish budget as the key opportunity for the first minister to do the right thing and ensure investment matches the ‘national mission’ to end child poverty. It’s an investment that has the backing of all the political parties and over 120 trade unions, children’ charities, women’s organisations and faith groups. That’s why it is a disappointment that, whilst she restated her commitment, the first minister missed the opportunity to announce an immediate doubling of the Scottish Child Payment. ”
The government said it is committed to supporting a just transition to a low-carbon economy for people and businesses, including a £500 million Just Transition Fund for the North East and Moray, and will invest an additional £500m to support new, green jobs of the future, including by helping people access training.
Environmental campaigners have said further details are required, and urged that action be taken quickly. Friends of the Earth Scotland's director, Dr Richard Dixon, said: "This year’s Programme for Government confirms the promises from the SNP election manifesto and the co-operation agreement with the Scottish Green Party, but gives disappointingly little further detail on timescales or processes.”
Fabrice Leveque, head of policy at WWF Scotland, said: “It’s particularly welcome to see some new commitments in the Programme for Government to place Scotland on a path to a just and green recovery. If carried through, these will slash emissions, restore nature and deliver new jobs and wider benefits to people now and for years to come. With all eyes on Scotland ahead of Cop26 climate talks in Glasgow, it’s vital that these, and other policies, are implemented quickly to avoid the worst effects of climate change and further loss of nature.”
Cancer Research UK (CRUK) said it was disappointed that legislation to clampdown on junk food promotions will not be considered until 2022/23 at the earliest. Andy Glyde, CRUK’s senior external affairs manager in Scotland, said: “While the commitment to restrict supermarket price promotions on junk food is positive, we’re very concerned that these measures, which were originally promised in 2019, are subject to more delay and uncertainty.
“Obesity is the second-biggest preventable cause of cancer after smoking, so immediate action to help us all eat healthier diets is vital. In England, measures to restrict supermarket price promotions on junk food could come into force as early as next year. Yet in Scotland, where we have the worst weight problem in the UK, it’s frustrating there’s not similar urgency.”
Fiona Duncan, chair of The Promise Scotland, welcomed commitments to helping care experienced youngsters.
She said: "In February 2020, Scottish Government accepted in full the Independent Care Review’s conclusions and, alongside others, made a promise to Scotland’s children and families. This meant that wherever children are safe in their families and feel loved they must stay, and families must be given support together to nurture that love and overcome the difficulties which get in the way. By committing to keep the promise, they promised to do everything in their power to make sure that children and families get all the support they need to thrive - now and in the future.
“Given the devastating impact of the pandemic, a tangible demonstration of that commitment in Programme for Government to establish a Whole Family Wellbeing Fund is welcome. Scotland is at a critical juncture, where the change underway must be built on at pace.”
Announcing the Programme for Government, the first minister said: “This programme addresses the key challenges Scotland faces, and aims to shape a better future.
“It sets out how we will tackle the challenge of Covid, and rebuild from it. It outlines how we will address the deep-seated inequalities in our society. It shows how we will confront with urgency the climate emergency, in a way that captures maximum economic benefit. And it details the steps we will take to mitigate, as far as we can, the damaging consequences of Brexit while offering a better alternative.
“In the face of these challenges, our ambition must be bold. This programme sets out clear plans to lead Scotland out of the greatest health crisis in a century and transform our nation and the lives of those who live here.
“We will deliver a National Care Service; double the Scottish Child Payment; and invest in affordable, energy efficient homes and green travel. We will ensure that businesses have the support, and people have the skills, to succeed in the low carbon economy of the future. We will show global leadership in tackling the climate crisis.
“And we will offer people an informed choice on Scotland’s future. To that end, I can confirm that the Scottish Government will now restart work on the detailed prospectus that will guide the decision. The case for independence is a strong one and we will present it openly, frankly and with confidence and ambition.”