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One Scotland - Programme for Government 2014-15

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CHAPTER 4

A FAIRER SCOTLAND, REDUCING INEQUALITIES

141. There remains a significant problem of poverty in Scotland which will need to be addressed in order to make our country a fairer, more equal place. There are particular challenges around social mobility and people who are unable to access opportunities or who may be excluded. Poverty can persist across generations, and as some in our society become richer, others are being left behind.

142. Poverty is a human rights issue. It represents a failure to fulfil the right to an adequate standard of living that is established in international human rights law. Other rights, like the right to education, to health and to adequate housing, are also affected by poverty.

143. The 'austerity' response to the economic recession of 2008 has done much to deepen the problem of poverty in Scotland. Changes to the welfare system, cuts in public spending and rising costs of living have all combined to push more people into poverty. Children, disabled people, women and older people have been disproportionately affected.

144. The Scottish Government seeks to provide opportunities for all to flourish and is determined to remove the barriers which prevent people from reaching their full potential. These barriers go beyond income inequality to include issues of disadvantage, prejudice and discrimination. These can affect outcomes for people specifically in relation to employment and health - closing the gap in these inequalities is an important priority for this government.

145. The Scottish Government has already had considerable success in protecting the services disproportionately relied upon by the most vulnerable in society, for example by protecting NHSScotland from the damaging reforms seen elsewhere in the UK. The Scottish Government has also acted to the limits of its powers in order to mitigate some of the welfare reforms which are adversely affecting so many people.

EDUCATION AND LIFELONG LEARNING

146. Education can draw out of each generation the very best that they have to give to their society and to themselves. The Scottish Government is supporting children in their earliest years to make Scotland the best place in the world to grow up. Giving children opportunities for learning and development in the early years can make a huge difference for the rest of their lives. The Scottish Government remains committed to Scotland's longstanding tradition of free education. We have extended free early learning and childcare backed by a dedicated and exceptional teaching workforce. However, more needs to be done.

147. In the past year, the Scottish Government has delivered a number of achievements in this area. We have:

  • Ensured that the Early Years Collaborative, the world's first national, multi-agency quality improvement collaborative, is now working across Scotland to give children the best start in life.
  • Invested £1 million in our Play, Talk, Read campaign.
  • Published national Child Protection guidance for practitioners.
  • Invested £15 million in 2013-14 through our Third Sector Early Intervention Fund and Strategic Funding Partnership to improve outcomes for children, families and communities.
  • Ensured record highs in the number of school leavers achieving sustained positive destinations: 90 per cent in March 2014.
  • Established a shared commitment with local government which has halted the decline in teacher numbers and ensured stability in our teaching workforce, lowering teacher unemployment to monthly levels below those in each of the last nine years.
  • Delivered 116,399 funded Full Time Equivalent places in Scotland's colleges in the academic year 2012-13.
  • Ensured outcome agreements are in place with each college and university for the third year in succession, improving accountability and transparency for our £1.6 billion public investment.
  • Continued to make good on our commitment to restore free higher education - benefiting over 120,000 students, and saving them up to £27,000 compared with the cost of studying in England.
  • Delivered on the commitment to give the poorest students a minimum income of £7,250 per year in maintenance support from academic year 2013-14; increasing to £7,500 in 2014-15.

Early Years

148. Our shared vision is to make Scotland the best place in the world to grow up in by improving outcomes and reducing inequalities for all babies, children, mothers, fathers and families across Scotland to ensure that all children have the best start in life and are ready to succeed.

149. Life chances begin to be determined before we are born, and are shaped before children enter formal education at age three. The arguments, economic as well as social, for investment in the early years are well supported by a wealth of evidence. Intervention in the early years is crucial to reduce inequality in Scotland and break the cycle of poverty, poor health and poor attainment.

150. We will continue to support the Early Years Collaborative, a coalition of Community Planning Partners, including social services, health, education, police and third sector professionals committed to ensuring that every baby, child, mother, father and family in Scotland has access to the best support available.

151. As part of a wider financial package announced in January 2014 to help support families with young children, £70.5 million revenue funding has been committed over two years to provide Primary 1 to Primary 3 children in Scotland with the option of a free meal in school from January 2015, improving health and wellbeing, increasing attainment and saving families at least £330 a year for each child.

Schools

152. Against every main measure, Scottish education is getting better. We have record exam results; record high number of school leavers in positive destinations; and, since 2007, we have halted our decline in the PISA league tables and reinforced Scotland's international standing in education.

153. Teaching Scotland's Future which will equip our workforce with the necessary skills, Getting it Right for Every Child and Developing Scotland's Young Workforce are all important developments. Together, they are creating expectations for our young people. They are teaching them about their potential and transforming lives.

154. But we are clear that we must do more. Improving school attainment for all and closing the attainment gap will be a priority. To do that we must address the inequalities which still exist within our system. We are already committed to action including:

  • A new Scottish College of Educational Leadership has been established to provide a forum for networking, sharing best practice and promoting routes to becoming a head teacher.
  • Literacy and numeracy hubs have been developed to promote excellence across the country and support improvement.
  • A new evidence-based, web resource for schools to support their parental engagement strategies, particularly engaging with families living in deprived areas. A refreshed ParentZone website to improve the information provided to parents is currently being developed.
  • Insight is a new online benchmarking tool which went live in September 2014 to help bring about improvements for pupils in the senior phase. It is being used to identify areas of success and where improvements can be made.
  • The Self-Improving Schools Partnership Programme is continuing to facilitate partnerships within and across schools and local authorities.
  • Raising Attainment for All was launched in June 2014. Twelve Local Authorities and over 150 schools across Scotland are part of this quality improvement community. This work aims to support consistent improvement in attainment and achievement.

SCHOOL ATTAINMENT

We know that there is untapped potential in many of Scotland's children and young people and we must provide the support, the opportunities and the right environment for our young citizens to flourish and thrive. That's why, in the year ahead, we will support schools by bringing a sharp focus to the need for improvement in educational attainment. We will:

  • Introduce a Read, Write, Count literacy and numeracy campaign aimed at Primary 1 to 3 children which will build on the success of the Play, Talk, Read campaign in the early years. Literacy and numeracy form the basis for all learning, and through this campaign, every child in Scotland will have access to a library of suitable books and educational materials which will, in turn, impact on their literacy and numeracy development. Sessions to support parents will be run locally to build a bridge between school and home. There will be a particular focus on investment in our most deprived communities.
  • Education Scotland, our national improvement and inspection agency for education, will put in place an Attainment Advisor for each Local Authority, who will reach into every learning community in Scotland to build capacity in our schools. These Advisors will be aligned with local improvement activity, creating local and national networks in agreement with local partners and an agile model of system led improvement. This will build on the work already underway but represents a step change in terms of increased intensity and priority. This, together with the work on the review of inspection and on the development of the next edition of How Good is Our School will shine a spotlight on the issues around attainment in our schools and beyond. This will ensure that we have a clear understanding of the issues and when, and where, outcomes are improving.
  • Continue to support improvement in the learning and teaching of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics in schools, with a particular focus on primary schools, as well as continuing to create the conditions to enable all young people to have the opportunity to learn two languages in addition to their mother tongue (the '1+2 model') by 2020. This learning has intrinsic value, but will also equip children and young people with the skills needed to contribute to a thriving economy and to communicate better as global citizens.
  • Maintain a strong support for Gaelic, through support for Gaelic education, Gaelic broadcasting and Gaelic arts. The Scottish Government recognises that the only way to create a secure future for Gaelic in Scotland will be by increasing the numbers of those learning, speaking and using the language, and Gaelic education in particular has a key role in achieving this aim.
  • Invest in world class learning environments. By March 2018 the Scottish Government's £1.8 billion Schools for the Future Programme will see the construction of 91 new schools. We are now investing in a further phase of the Programme which will see well in excess of 100 schools being built for over 60,000 pupils by March 2020. These inspirational learning environments - tailored to delivering Curriculum for Excellence - will be built in every part of Scotland in partnership with local authorities and will be used by schools and communities alike.

155. An Education Bill will be introduced, aimed at improving children's rights, how investigations are carried out in schools and educational establishments, and Gaelic education.

156. The Scottish Government will maintain its strong support for Gaelic, through support for Gaelic education, MG ALBA (Gaelic television) and Gaelic arts. This has created a successful sector in Scottish education, has transformed the broadcasting landscape in Scotland and encouraged a minority community to have a significant impact on Scottish cultural life.

157. The Scottish Government recognises that the only way to create a secure future for Gaelic in Scotland will be by increasing the numbers of those learning, speaking and using the language, and Gaelic education has a key role in achieving this aim. There has been encouraging growth in Gaelic early years and primary in some areas and the 2011 Census recorded an increase in the numbers of young people between the ages of 3-19 who speak Gaelic.

EDUCATION BILL

The Education Bill will further progress the Scottish Government's support for Gaelic education and its commitment to recognising, respecting and promoting children's and parental rights.

Specifically, the Bill will:

  • Extend children's rights within existing additional support for learning legislation.
  • Enhance the process for complaints made to Ministers under section 70 of the Education (Scotland) Act 1980 by introducing statutory timescales which must be met by those involved in that process.
  • Make provision on entitlement to, and promotion of, Gaelic medium education in schools.
  • Ensure that all teachers within Independent schools and grant aided special schools are registered through the General Teaching Council for Scotland.
  • Make other technical amendments with regards to kinship care and provisions for school food and drink to ensure clarity and simplicity.

158. The Scottish Government will inspire and engage children and young people through:

  • Extending the work already underway to deliver a children's summit into a year-long campaign to bring the voices of children and young people to bear in decisions which affect the provision of education and other services. This will encourage civic participation and will ensure that Community Empowerment is a part of the formative experience of children and young people in Scotland.
  • Support for the work of the Children's University, giving children a passport to a wide range of learning and development experiences, expanding interests, activities and knowledge. This will help children develop high aspirations and increase their awareness of potential careers, with a clear link to widening access to Higher Education.

159. We will support parents and communities through a programme of activity to better engage parents in their children's learning. This includes:

  • The redesign of Parentzone to provide parents with all relevant information about their child's school and how to support their child's education.
  • Support for schools to develop effective parental engagement strategies through the launch of a web based resource.

CURRICULUM FOR EXCELLENCE

The Curriculum for Excellence is Scotland's national approach to learning and teaching for young people. It is taking Scottish system in a different direction from other systems in the UK, and through it children are being provided with both knowledge and, crucially, with the capacity to acquire knowledge and to think, learn and re-learn.

The Scottish Government will continue to work closely with teachers to provide the support they need to deliver Curriculum for Excellence with confidence. This includes progressing recommendations made in Teaching Scotland's Future and improving leadership across the education system, including through the establishment and on-going support for the Scottish College for Educational Leadership and the development of a new qualification for Headship.

Further and Higher Education

160. Scotland has a world-class higher education sector, and the Scottish Government believes that education should be within the reach of all, and that educational opportunity should always be based on the ability to learn, not the ability to pay. Therefore, in contrast to other parts of the UK, Ministers have maintained their commitment to free tuition for Scottish-domiciled students, and are providing the poorest students with a minimum income guarantee of £7,250 in 2013-14 rising to £7,500 per annum in 2014-15.

161. We want a cohesive education system which provides young people with a variety of routes to a positive future. However, too often students from poorer backgrounds are unable to secure the opportunities presented by going to university. Alongside our work to provide high quality vocational education and training, we will introduce new, additional support to take action to ensure those from less privileged backgrounds have a fair chance of accessing the higher education and developing the skills they need to support needed to succeed in their chosen careers and fulfil their potential.

WIDENING ACCESS TO HIGHER EDUCATION

One of the essential outcomes the Scottish Government expects from our support for further and higher education is an increase in the number of Scots from disadvantaged backgrounds accessing higher education as one of a number of routes into sustainable employment. As part of that, we want every child - whatever their background - to have not just a better chance but an equal chance of attending university.

In line with that vision, we also intend to introduce a target for participation in higher education to drive further and faster progress and to support more extensive, effective and creative collaborations between our schools, colleges and universities to improve attainment and widen access. Colleges provide a key route into higher education, particularly for students from disadvantaged areas or backgrounds, but more needs to be done to ensure that the doors of all our universities are open to everyone.

We recognise this is a complex issue to address and we will set ourselves an ambitious goal. We are therefore setting up a Commission on Widening Access to advise on meaningful milestones, and targets and activities that will assist in accelerating progress and to tell us when more action is required to realise our vision. Although the primary focus is on improved access and qualification outcomes in higher education, the entire education system has a role to play and will be challenged to respond. In immediate support of that response, we will be providing £2 million in 2015-16 to double the funding available for local widening access initiatives available through the Scottish Funding Council's Access for Impact for Access Fund.

162. The Scottish Government has increased funding for universities over this Spending Review period. For colleges, over the last two years, it is delivering an extra £61 million beyond that originally planned, setting a funding floor of £522 million in 2013-14, and maintaining it in 2014-15. The draft budget for 2015-16 confirms the Scottish Government's plans to increase college funding to £526 million. Meanwhile, the restructuring of our colleges is set to deliver efficiencies of around £49 million by the end of 2015-16. And college bursaries, which were already set at record levels, rose to take account of inflation this year, and will do so again next year.

163. The Scottish Government is currently consulting on the scope of a Higher Education Governance Bill following on from the Review of Higher Education Governance in Scotland, published in 2012. The Bill will be introduced as part of this legislative programme.

Health and Social Care

164. The Scottish Government is committed to working with partners to promote wellbeing and to support individuals during times of ill health, and other occasions when they may be vulnerable and in need of support. We also believe that people should, wherever possible, be closely involved in all the decisions involving their health and care. Major achievements include:

  • Protection of the frontline NHS budget.
  • Our world-leading patient safety programme with major reductions in levels of hospital mortality and healthcare associated infections.
  • Significant reductions in premature mortality from cancer, heart disease and stroke.
  • Reduced waiting times.
  • The removal of prescription charges and introduction of free eye tests.
  • The highest level of dementia diagnosis in the UK and a world leading commitment to one year's post diagnostic support for all those with a new diagnosis, putting Scotland at the forefront of the Global Action Against Dementia.

HIGHER EDUCATION GOVERNANCE BILL

The Higher Education Governance Bill will implement a number of key recommendations of the Review of Higher Education Governance in Scotland, which was led by Professor Ferdinand von Prondzynski. The Bill will ensure that the principles of democracy, transparency and democratic accountability are further embedded in the governance of all higher education institutions in Scotland, now and for the future.

Among its measures, and subject to views shared through the consultation, it is intended that the Bill will address areas such as the election of chairs and composition of governing bodies, the composition of academic boards and update of the principles of academic freedom already in statute.

  • A focus on the importance of the early years as a foundation for long term health and wellbeing through initiatives such as Family Nurse Partnership and the Early Years Collaborative.
  • Health and social care integration - a single vision for sustainable quality across health and social care services, including unique workforce partnership arrangements.

165. The Scottish Government is committed to helping people to sustain and improve their health, especially in disadvantaged communities, and ensuring better, local and faster access to health care.

166. In the past year, the Scottish Government has delivered a number of achievements in this area, including:

  • Launch of the three-year £50 million National Unscheduled Care Action Plan in February 2013 to support improvements, transformation and sustainability of unscheduled care performance. The Ministerial Task Force on Health Inequalities published its second review of Equally Well in March 2014. The review noted that while Scotland's health is improving, deep-seated inequalities are still present and the gap between the richest and poorest is not shrinking.
  • We are leading the way in the UK with reinvestment of Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme rebates in to new medicines through the £40 million New Medicines Fund. The Fund supports the changes made by the Scottish Medicines Consortium to increase access to new medicines for patients in Scotland.
  • A significant reduction in the number of suicides in Scotland, with almost 20 per cent fewer suicides in 2013 than in 2003.
  • The total number of general dental practitioners providing NHS services in March 2014 show an increase of over 700 compared with September 2006.
  • Cases of C. difficile in patients aged 65 and over have reduced by 81.9 per cent (April-June 2014). Cases of MRSA reduced by 89.2 per cent over the same period and are at the lowest number of cases since mandatory surveillance began. A national MRSA screening policy was introduced which is mandatory across all NHS Boards.
  • Made good progress towards the implementation of standardised packaging for tobacco products, working in collaboration with UK, Welsh and Northern Irish Governments to agree UK-wide primary legislation.
  • Providing funding of £88.7 million to support NHS Board spending on ICT including supporting IT Business as usual applications, maintaining and enhancing IT Infrastructure and delivering the strategic objectives of the eHealth Strategy 2011-17.

NHSScotland

167. The Scottish Government has made significant improvements to Scotland's health and the quality of health care, while protecting the NHS as a free, truly public service, consistent with the values of the NHS and the priorities of people in Scotland.

168. The Scottish Government continues to support the NHS in providing high quality, world-leading health and social care to the Scottish people in a way that maintains the founding principles of the NHS and which reflects the requirements and the opportunities for a health service in a country the size of Scotland. The Government is also committed to supporting NHS Boards to make greater use of digital technologies to enable more effective and person-centred health and care services.

169. The Scottish Government will continue to support the Scottish Patient Safety Programme, a world-leading initiative aimed at improving the safety and ensure reliability of health care and reduce harm, whenever care is delivered. This is achieved by applying evidence-based interventions to improve the reliability and safety of routine healthcare systems and processes, and that staff caring directly for patients lead the changes and are able to monitor their improvement through the collection of time data at individual level.

170. On Monday 24 November, the Scottish Government accepted all 75 recommendations of The Vale of Leven Hospital Inquiry Report. The first recommendation was that the Health Environment Inspectorate (HEI) should have the power to close a ward to new admissions if in its view there was a real risk to patient safety. We will take immediate steps to ensure such a view from the HEI is acted upon, however the formal implementation of this recommendation will require primary legislation and we will legislate at the first opportunity.

171. The 2020 Vision or NHSScotland was launched in 2011 and sets out the overall strategic policy for NHSScotland.

172. The Scottish Government remains committed to improving Scotland's health outcomes, and will introduce a Public Health Bill to take forward legislation in a number of policy areas.

173. We will take forward a consultation on whether nutritional and catering standards in hospital should be placed on a statutory footing.

NHS 2020 VISION

The Scottish Government's vision is that by 2020 everyone is able to live longer, healthier lives at home, or in a homely setting and, that we will have a healthcare system where:

  • We have integrated health and social care.
  • There is a focus on prevention, anticipation and supported self-management.
  • If hospital treatment is required, and cannot be provided in a community setting, day case treatment will be the norm.
  • Whatever the setting, care will be provided to the highest standards of quality and safety, with the person receiving care at the centre of all decisions.
  • There will be a focus on ensuring that people get back into their home or community environment as soon as appropriate, with minimal risk of re-admission.

The Scottish Government remains committed to this vision, and will continue to support NHSScotland in its delivery.

174. We have launched the Detect Cancer Early programme to address the poor quality of life and poor survival rates resulting from late diagnosis of cancer. The sooner that cancer is diagnosed and treated, the better the survival outcomes. We have seen a 50 per cent increase in the number of women attending their GP with breast symptoms compared to the previous year following the breast awareness phase of social marketing.

Health and Social Care Integration

175. Integration of health and social care is the Scottish Government's ambitious programme of reform to improve services for people who use health and social care services. Integration will ensure that health and social care provision across Scotland is joined-up and seamless, especially for people with long-term conditions and disabilities, many of whom are older people.

PUBLIC HEALTH BILL

The Public Health Bill will include measures to reduce the attractiveness and availability of non-medicinal e-cigarettes and tobacco. It will also ensure that the courts can deal with those extreme cases where people in care settings have suffered the worst cases of neglect and ill-treatment, and it will introduce a statutory organisational duty of candour for providers of health and social care.

The Scottish Government has already committed to introducing an age restriction to make it an offence to sell non-medicinal e-cigarettes that contain, or could contain, nicotine to young people under age 18. We launched a consultation on 10 October 2014 to consider what additional measures are needed to protect people from behaviours and products which promote nicotine use or that could make smoking seem normal. In addition to an age restriction for non-medicinal e-cigarettes, the consultation will invite views on tobacco control, measures to restrict access to e-cigarettes by under 18 year olds and reducing the appeal of e-cigarettes to young people and non-smokers.

The Bill will also create a criminal offence of wilful neglect to ensure that the courts have adequate powers to deal with those extreme cases where people in health and social care settings have suffered the worst cases of neglect and ill-treatment. The offence is intended to be comparable to other offences that already exist in relation to people with mental illness and adults with incapacity. It will ensure that the ill-treatment or wilful neglect of individuals in any type of health or social care can be dealt with on an equal basis. We launched a consultation on 10 October 2014 to invite views on this proposal.

The Bill will also create a statutory organisational duty of candour for providers of health and social care. The duty will require providers of health and social care to offer an open and honest explanation following certain defined instances of physical and psychological harm. This will support the Scottish Government's commitment to safe, effective and person-centred delivery of health and social care. We launched a consultation on 15 October 2014 to invite views on this proposal.

176. The Public Bodies (Joint Working) (Scotland) Act received Royal Assent on 1 April 2014, setting the legislative framework for integrating health and social care in Scotland. Integrated arrangements are being established by health boards and local authorities, and full integration will begin roll out from April 2015, with all arrangements to be in place by April 2016.

177. Under integration, health boards and local authorities, along with partners in the housing sector and the third sector, will bring together planning and provision of health and social care services, to improve outcomes particularly for people with multiple complex care needs. Work is underway to assure a strong role for health and social care professionals, housing organisations, and local communities, in designing and delivering better co-ordinated care.

178. By working with individuals and local communities in line with our distinctive Scottish approach, Integration Authorities will support people to achieve key outcomes such as that people, including those with disabilities, long-term conditions, or who are frail, are able to live, as far as reasonably practicable, independently and at home or in a homely setting in their community, that health and social care services are centred on helping to maintain or improve the quality of life of service users, and resources are used effectively in the provision of health and social care services, without waste.

179. The new integrated arrangements will support a transformation of care in Scotland, consistent with the 2020 Vision and the objective of meeting people's expectation that services should be designed in a way that enables them to stay at home, maintaining normal life as far as possible and preserving the connections with their family and friends that they value. This supports the Scottish Government's aim to give back at least 200,000 days to individuals, families and communities by 2017 that would otherwise have been spent in hospital. As part of taking forward this aim we will consult on moving towards a standard that all those ready to go home should be discharged within 72 hours.

180. Additional funding of £173 million has already been identified for 2015-16 to support the transformation of care under integration and the modernisation and protection of primary care services. This is in addition to the resources committed already in 2014-15 to support the work on unscheduled care and on delayed discharge. A further £5 million from the Scottish Government will be available ahead of this coming winter with contributions also being made by health boards and local government. The agreed work already underway between the Scottish Government and other partners in respect of the quality and availability of residential care and care at home will continue.

181. The Scottish Government recognises the vital role that unpaid carers play in caring for their family, friends and neighbours including people who are vulnerable, and will introduce a Carers Bill that will extend the rights of carers and young carers.

SELF-DIRECTED CARE

Self-directed support is a term that describes the ways in which individuals and families can have an informed choice about how their support is provided to them. It is most commonly used in the delivery of social care and support but it can cover a much wider range of services. It gives people control over an individual budget and allows them to choose how it is spent on support which meets their agreed health and social care outcomes.

The Social Care (Self-directed Support) (Scotland) Act 2013 and relevant Regulations came into effect in April 2014, meaning that all 32 of Scotland's councils will be required to ensure that newly assessed social care clients and those who receive a review of their needs are provided with the opportunity to direct their own support.

The Scottish Government will ensure robust and comprehensive implementation of this legislation in partnership with COSLA, the Care Inspectorate and user and provider groups, and through the associated Monitoring and Evaluation Strategy. Implementation will be supported through a full review and update to its guidance framework, the provision of £6 million in transformation funding the councils, and £3.9 million to the voluntary and independent sector.

CARERS BILL

The Carers Bill is an important part of the Scottish Government's wider programme of Health and Social Care reform. The Bill will extend the rights of carers, including young carers. The Bill will make a meaningful difference to carers and will contribute towards the improvement of their health and wellbeing, ensuring that they can continue to care and to have a life alongside caring. The Bill will help deliver:

  • A new Carers Support Plan.
  • Improved and sustained personal outcomes.
  • Improved information and advice provision.
  • Improved access to local support services.
  • More carer involvement in the planning and delivery of support and services, both at individual and strategic levels.

182. The overarching approach of the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) 2003 Act was to ensure that the law and practice relating to mental health should be driven by a set of principles, particularly minimum interference in people's liberty and the maximum involvement of service users in any treatment. The Mental Health (Scotland) Bill was introduced to the Scottish Parliament on 19 June 2014 and is currently progressing through Parliament. The Bill aims to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the mental health system through a variety of measures which build on the approach of the 2003 Act.

183. The next phase of Scotland's national food and drink policy articulates an aspiration to become a Good Food Nation. It highlights the significant successes of the sector but flags up a troubling paradox alongside Scotland's fantastic larder, we continue to have an uneasy relationship with food. We have one of the poorest diet-related health records globally, unacceptable levels of food waste, widespread disconnect from where our food comes from and the shame of increasing reliance on food banks.

184. We will work with partners in the new food Commission to deliver our aspiration that Scotland should become a Good Food Nation, a Land of Food and Drink, not only in what we as a nation produce but also in what we buy, serve and eat. We want food to be a key part of what makes the people of Scotland proud of their country.

185. The Scottish Government introduced the Food (Scotland) Bill to the Scottish Parliament in March 2014, which creates Food Standards Scotland to replace the UK-wide Food Standards Agency (FSA) in Scotland. It will also allow for the scope of the body's functions to be widened beyond the FSA's current remit, for example streamlining how diet, nutrition and obesity are handled in Scotland.

186. The other main purpose of the Bill is to establish new food law provisions to protect and improve public health by: driving up hygiene standards reducing the incidence of food-borne disease; providing safeguards against food standards incidents such as food fraud; and strengthening and simplifying the penalty regimes for breaches of food law. The Bill is progressing through Parliament and the target is to have Food Standards Scotland established by April 2015, with the improved food safety protections in place as soon as possible after that.

WELFARE

187. The record of successive Scottish administrations on welfare issues shows the commitment to social justice which lies at the heart of political and civic life in Scotland. Scottish Ministers believe that the UK Government continues to cut public spending too far and too fast, and this is not only damaging the recovery of the economy, but also creating unnecessary hardship for vulnerable groups.

188. Scottish Ministers acknowledge that reform of welfare is needed, but do not agree with the way in which the UK Government is carrying this out. Reform should result in a welfare system which is simpler, makes work pay and lifts people out of poverty, in order to ensure fair and decent support for all. The welfare reforms being pursued by the UK Government are inconsistent with these aims.

189. In the past year, the Scottish Government has delivered a number of achievements in this area. We have:

  • Mitigated the impacts of welfare reform on people in Scotland within existing powers and resources, including maintaining funding for the Scottish Welfare Fund at £38 million and investing £8 million in welfare mitigation activity such as advice and support services, and £35 million to tackle the Bedroom Tax.
  • Worked with COSLA, Scottish local authorities and a wide range of the third sector partners to improve our understanding of, and response to, the impact of the UK Government's welfare reforms.
  • Committed £23 million in 2013-14 and again in 2014-15 to help mitigate the cut in funding from the UK Government for Council Tax Benefit successor arrangements, and worked in partnership with COSLA and local authorities to deliver our national Council Tax Reduction scheme.
  • Set up the £1 million Emergency Food Aid Action Plan to help food aid organisations combat food poverty in Scotland.

190. The Scottish Government remains committed to doing everything it can within existing powers and resources to mitigate the impacts of welfare reform on people in Scotland. The UK Government's cuts and changes to the welfare system continue to have damaging consequences for people, organisations and devolved services across Scotland.

191. Analysis published on 7 April 2014 estimates that the cumulative impact of the UK Government's welfare reforms over the six years to 2015-16 could result in welfare expenditure in Scotland being reduced by around £6 billion, of which it is estimated that £1 billion relates directly to children. Not only does this directly affect the most vulnerable in our society, it also places greater demands on the services that people turn to for support, such as health and housing.

192. The Scottish Government is committed to challenging the UK Government for fairer welfare reform and to take action to ensure that safeguards are in place for those who need them most. This includes considering how, together with our partners, we can build resilience within those communities most affected by changes to the welfare system and reductions in benefit expenditure.

193. The Scottish Welfare Fund provides grants which can act as a safety net in an emergency when there is an immediate threat to health and safety, or enable independent living, preventing the need for institutional care. The Scottish Government is committed to providing £38 million for this fund in 2014-15 and will continue to progress the Welfare Funds (Scotland) Bill through the Scottish Parliament to provide a statutory basis for a permanent local welfare safety net, delivered by local authorities. The Government will provide £35 million of funding to tackle the effects of the Bedroom Tax.

194. In addition, £23 million has been committed in 2014-15 to help mitigate the cut in funding from the UK Government for Council Tax Benefit successor arrangements, and we have worked in partnership with COSLA and local authorities to deliver the national Council Tax Reduction scheme.

COMMUNITY CHARGE DEBT BILL

The Poll Tax, or community charge, was a system of taxation introduced in replacement of rates in Scotland from 1989, a year prior to its introduction in England and Wales from 1990 - but was widely discredited, even before its introduction, and was abolished after only four years in 1993.

The Scottish Government will introduce legislation to end collection of historic community charge debts. It will ensure, following recent high levels of democratic engagement in Scotland, that the electoral registers are not used to pursue historic arrears of the community charge, as well as ending ongoing repayment arrangements.

195. The Government's approach to tackling poverty through a focus on pockets, prospects and places will continue. We must build on our existing work with others to improve opportunities for all. Organisations such as The Poverty Truth Commission and Poverty Alliance have carried out important work, engaging with communities in new and exciting ways. We want to do more to learn from these organisations and others, and to involve people and communities who are experiencing poverty, to ensure effective action is taken to tackle poverty and inequality.

196.All new and revised Scottish Government policies will be subject to a new poverty impact assessment, with trials of the approach beginning in 2015. The trials, to be developed following engagement with communities and our partners, will form part of a wider review of existing impact assessments and frameworks, intended to strengthen government decision-making and accountability.

197. Although the focus of the assessment will initially be on Scottish Government policy and programmes, the approach will also consider UK level policy announcements, recognising that many decisions affecting Scottish people in poverty are taken by Westminster. We will also work with our partners to consider how poverty impacts might be best assessed across the wider public sector as part of ensuring that more effective approaches to tackling poverty and inequality are at the heart of the next phase of public service reform.

AFFORDABLE, SUSTAINABLE HOUSING

198. High quality houses help create strong communities, are important for people's wellbeing, health, education and safety, and have a direct impact on the economy and jobs. Scotland faces distinctive challenges from those in the rest of the UK, and the Scottish Government continues to be committed to addressing this.

199. In the past year, the Scottish Government has delivered a number of achievements in this area, including:

  • Scotland's Sustainable Housing Strategy was published on 21 June 2013. The Strategy sets out an ambitious programme and route map to 2030 to achieve a vision for warm, high quality, affordable, low carbon homes and a housing sector that helps to establish
    a successful low carbon economy across Scotland.
  • The Government pledged to deliver 30,000 affordable homes over the lifetime of this Parliament, including 20,000 social homes of which 5,000 will be council homes. In the first three years, 19,903 new affordable homes, including 14,294 social homes, have been delivered.
  • Supported the industry-led Building the Rented Sector project focused on attracting institutional investment into Scotland's new-build private rented sector, and funded a dedicated Private Rented Sector Champion to capitalise on the investment opportunities that currently exist.

AN INDEPENDENT ADVISOR ON POVERTY AND INEQUALITY

We will appoint an independent advisor on poverty and inequality. The advisor will hold at least three public events with the First Minister during 2015, to gather insights into people's experiences, raise the public awareness of the scale and realities of living in poverty, and seek views on further actions to reduce poverty and inequality in Scotland. Supported by a small team, the independent advisor will be tasked with making recommendations to the Government on how collectively we should respond to these challenges and will hold the Government to account on its performance.

  • Worked with the Scottish Futures Trust and a number of Councils to develop and deliver variants of the successful original National Housing Trust initiative, which has levered over £200 million of development so far and is on track to deliver over 2,000 additional homes for affordable rent.
  • Pioneered the use of the Charitable Bond mechanism in Scotland as a channel for loan investment to support the financing of more affordable homes and to generate grants for the funding of regeneration projects by charitable organisations.
  • Hosted the Scottish Housing Event in November 2014, working with delegates representing the whole range of housing perspectives to create a Joint Delivery Plan for Housing in Scotland.

200. The Housing (Scotland) Act 2014 will safeguard tenants' interests; support improvements to housing quality; and secure better outcomes for communities, through ending all right to buy entitlements which will protect the existing stock of social rented homes and help the many people in need of social housing. The Act will also increase flexibility in the allocation and management of social housing and will benefit tenants in the private rented sector by introducing a regulatory framework for Letting Agents, setting a consistent standard of professionalism and conduct. Poor conditions in the private rented sector will be tackled by the creation of additional powers for local authorities.

201. The Scottish Government will continue to invest in affordable housing, committing £1.7 billion over the five years to 2015-16, principally through local authorities and housing associations. This investment will ensure that the target of 30,000 affordable homes over the lifetime of the Parliament is met or exceeded.

202. It is vital that investment in housing results in warm, high quality, affordable, low carbon homes and a housing sector that helps to establish a successful low carbon economy across Scotland. Scotland's Sustainable Housing Strategy was published on 21 June 2013 and sets out an ambitious programme and route map to 2030 to this vision.

STRONGER, SAFER COMMUNITIES

203. Upholding the rule of law and protecting society is essential to ensure people feel safe in their communities. The Scottish Government is committed to working with partners to create a society in which all people and communities live in a safe, secure and resilient society where individual and collective rights are supported and disputes are resolved fairly and swiftly.

204. In the past year, the Scottish Government has delivered a number of achievements in this area, including:

  • Crime at its lowest level for 40 years with just over 148,000 fewer crimes recorded than in 2006-07 (down 36 per cent, from 419,257 to 270,397).
  • Clear up rate for all crimes highest in over 35 years in 2013-14.
  • Violent crime down by almost a half since 2006-07 (from 14,099 to 6,785).
  • Average custodial sentence lengths up 22 per cent since 2006-07 across all crimes and offences (283 days in 2012-13 compared with 232 in
    2006-07).
  • Firearms offences at a 33-year low in 2012-13, down by over 70 per cent since 2006-07, from 1,260 to 365.
  • Over 1,000 more police in our communities (police numbers at 17,267 as at 30 September 2014 - up 6.4 per cent or 1,033 officers on 31 March 2007).
  • The reconviction rate decreased to 29.2 per cent in 2011-12, continuing the general downward trend over the past decade, and down from 32.4 per cent in 2006-07.
  • The Victims and Witnesses (Scotland) Act 2014 was passed by Parliament in December 2013, placing the interests of victims and witnesses at the heart of reforms to the justice system and ensuring that offenders contribute financially towards the costs of providing support to victims.
  • The Minister for Transport and Veterans appointed Mr Eric Fraser CBE as Scotland's inaugural Veterans Commissioner - the first role of its kind in the UK. The Scottish Government has significantly increased the financial support available to Scotland's veterans charities through the Scottish Veterans Fund, taking the budget to £120,000 for 2014-15.

205. The Scottish Government is also determined to enable people to live in inclusive and respective communities, helping to remove barriers to the improvement of the lives of all of Scotland's people, including on grounds of disadvantage, prejudice or discrimination.

Policing and Safer Communities

206. A modern and effective police force is essential to the safety and security of Scotland's people and communities. The Scottish Government will support this through 1,000 more police officers in our communities compared to 2007 and will continue to build on the positive relationship with communities and the high level of confidence in policing across the country through promoting local engagement and maintaining crime rates at an historic low.

207. The Scottish Government will continue to work with Police Scotland and the Scottish Police Authority, in line with their strategic priorities and plans, to enable further significant progress to be made in implementing organisational reforms to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of policing and achieve the required saving targets. In 2014-15, Police Scotland is on track to save £88.2 million, and the expected, cumulative savings for 2015-16 will be £108.7 million which will contribute significantly towards the delivery of £1.1 billion from the police reform programme by 2025-26.

SAME SEX MARRIAGE

As part of our commitment to a fairer society, the Scottish Government supported the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014 which was passed in February 2014, representing a historic moment for equality in Scotland. The Act ensures that same sex couples have the same rights to marriage as opposite sex couples, whilst protecting religious bodies and celebrants who do not wish to take part in same sex marriage.

The implementation timetable envisages the bulk of the Act's provisions commenced on 16 December 2014. Subject to parliamentary approval of secondary legislation before the Scottish Parliament and an Order under section 104 of the Scotland Act 1998 at Westminster, the first same sex marriage ceremonies will take place in Scotland on 31 December 2014, after the usual 14 day marriage notice period. It will be possible for couples in a civil partnership registered in Scotland to change their civil partnership to marriage, if they wish, through an administrative process run by local authority registrars from 16 December 2014. Appointments should be booked with registrars beforehand.

208. Support will continue for the Building Safer Communities Programme, aimed at delivering a flourishing, optimistic Scotland in which resilient communities, families and individuals live safely, free from crime, disorder and harm. One specific aim of the programme is to reduce the cumulative number of victims of crime by 250,000 by 2017-18.

209. Sectarianism unfortunately remains an issue for some communities in Scotland. By the end of 2014-15 the most robust evidence base on the nature and extent of sectarianism in Scotland will have been gathered, and advice will have been received on developing the agenda from the independent Advisory Group on Tackling Sectarianism in Scotland. The Scottish Government will work with a wide range of partner and stakeholder organisations with the aim of building strong, confident communities which feel empowered, and have the capacity to tackle the social issues they are facing.

210. Trafficking human beings for the purpose of exploiting them through forced labour, domestic servitude, prostitution, or for any other purpose, requires robust legislation to allow police and prosecutors clear powers to detect and prosecute those responsible and to ensure an appropriate strategic response and effective support to victims. The Scottish Government will introduce a Human Trafficking and Exploitation Bill to address this.

211. A new drink drive limit will come into force from 5 December 2014. This reduces the 'drink drive' limit in Scotland from 80mg alcohol per 100ml of blood to 50mg alcohol per 100ml of blood, improving road safety and communicating clearly that the best approach is not to drink and drive.

212. Completion of the parliamentary passage of the Air Weapons and Licensing Bill will enhance public safety by ensuring that only people with a legitimate reason for possessing and using an air weapon will have access to them in future and take them out of the hands of those who would use them illegally.

HUMAN TRAFFICKING AND EXPLOITATION BILL

The Human Trafficking and Exploitation Bill will bring forward measures to improve how Scotland deals with the trafficking of human beings and those individuals who are exploited by being held in slavery or servitude or required to perform compulsory or forced labour. The Bill will implement recommendations in recent reports, such as the Scottish Parliament's Equal Opportunities Committee Report into Migration and Trafficking and will create a legislative framework which ensures that police, prosecutors and other agencies have the powers to make Scotland a hostile environment for human traffickers and those who exploit individuals and which helps to identify and support the needs of victims.

In particular, the Bill will:

  • Require the creation of a Scottish anti-human trafficking strategy and give statutory responsibility to relevant agencies to work with the Scottish Government to develop and review it.
  • Clarify and strengthen existing criminal law against human trafficking.
  • Enhance the status of, and support for the victims of trafficking.

213. Working with Scotland's resilience partners, the Scottish Government will continue to develop a strategic resilience framework that empowers local communities, business and Scotland's resilience responders to mitigate against and respond effectively to disruptive events. This will include collaborating with business, academia and communities to develop a cyber-resilient Scotland.

Justice, Prisons and Courts

214. The Scottish Government is committed to delivering a range of reforms to the structure and processes of the courts, access to justice and tribunals and administrative justice, including implementation of the Tribunals (Scotland) Act 2014. It has been developed and is being delivered with partners across the justice system, including the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, Scottish Court Service, Scottish Legal Aid Board and the Police.

215. The Courts Reform (Scotland) Act 2014 has completed its passage through Parliament and implementation will begin, including the establishment of a specialist personal injury court; a new Sheriff Appeal Court; the appointment of a new judicial office of summary sheriff; and raising the competence of the sheriff court. The Scottish Court Service and the Scottish Tribunals Service will be merged in 2015, creating a new body, independent of Government with a board chaired by the Lord President as head of Courts and Tribunals judiciary. Additionally, work will proceed with the Judicial Office for Scotland with the aim to establish a Scottish Sentencing Council by the end of this Parliament.

216. A report on post-corroboration safeguards will be published by April 2015. Once this report is available, parliamentary consideration of the Criminal Justice Bill will resume.

217. It is unacceptable in a modern Scotland, which aspires to equality, that far too many people, disproportionately women and girls, live with the threat of physical and psychological harm from partners or former partners. Police, prosecutors and courts have rightly strengthened their response to all forms of domestic and sexual abuse in recent years. However, more needs to be done.

218. Further measures in the Victims and Witnesses (Scotland) Act 2014 will be implemented throughout 2014-15, to improve the support available for victims and witnesses. The Scottish Government will provide funding of over £4 million to victim support organisations, including Victim Support Scotland, in 2014-15. The Victims Surcharge Fund will require offenders to contribute towards the costs of providing immediate services to the victims of crime, such as fixing locks.

219. New legislation will be introduced to Parliament to establish a more effective model for the delivery and oversight of community justice services in Scotland. This is a key component of the Reducing Re-offending Programme Phase 2 and will be delivered through the introduction of a Community Justice Bill.

TACKLING DOMESTIC ABUSE

Around one in every seven adults in Scotland report having been a victim of domestic abuse. Abuse can take many forms, not only physical violence, but threat, coercion and control. Of the 60,000 incidents of domestic abuse reported to the police in 2012-13, 80 per cent had a female victim and a male perpetrator. Domestic abuse also has a devastating impact on victims and children. Building on initiatives such as specialist domestic abuse courts, victim advocacy services and the Caledonian System which works with men to change violent behaviour, Scotland has the potential to lead the way in demonstrating that domestic abuse, in all of its forms, is unacceptable.

During 2015, we will consult on introducing a new specific criminal offence of committing domestic abuse. Although incidents of domestic abuse can be prosecuted under existing laws, a new specific offence could better reflect the true nature of abuse, including ongoing controlling and coercive behaviour by partners or former partners. We will begin work to create a new specific offence of committing so-called 'revenge porn' - the malicious distribution of intimate images of former partners.

We will also bring together leading academics during 2015 to establish and communicate a clear understanding of the extent and nature of domestic abuse in Scotland and to share evidence of what works to prevent and reduce harm. We will work with Police Scotland and other relevant bodies to draw on the lessons from the Disclosure Scheme for Domestic Abuse pilots launched this month in Aberdeen and Ayrshire and to assist Police Scotland in consideration of whether this approach, making available information about the previous abusive behaviour of a partner, should be extended more widely to help prevent the risk of harm. Together, we can better support victims of abuse and change the unacceptable attitudes and behaviours that cause domestic abuse.

COMMUNITY JUSTICE BILL

The Community Justice Bill will create a stronger community justice system based on local collaborative strategic planning and delivery with national support and assurance. It will also ensure that community justice is given the profile and priority that is required to improve outcomes across Scotland. The redesign of community justice forms part of the Scottish Government's response to the report of the Commission on Women Offenders (2012) and the Audit Scotland report on Reducing Reoffending (November 2012). The Bill will create a stronger community justice system that provides leadership; strategic direction; local decision-making and service delivery; improved collaboration and communication, underpinned by a performance culture; and an enhanced profile, all of which will result in better outcomes for people and communities.

The Bill will replace the existing arrangements for Community Justice Authorities (CJAs) with a new model which will introduce:

  • Provision for local planning and delivery of community justice services through Community Planning Partnerships (CPPs).
  • A national body to provide assurance on the delivery of outcomes for community justice and reducing reoffending, and to provide strong leadership for the sector.
  • A duty on a defined set of partner bodies (including local authorities, NHS Boards and Police Scotland) to engage in local strategic planning and delivery of community justice services.
  • Accountability for planning and performance at a local level.
  • The commissioning, management or delivery of services nationally, where appropriate.

220. The Scottish Government will continue to progress through Parliament the Prisoners (Control of Release) Bill to end the automatic early release from prison of certain categories of prisoners who pose a continuing risk to public safety. The Bill will also introduce flexibility to bring forward a prisoner's release date by up to two days for the purpose of effective reintegration of a prisoner into the community. The Bill will improve public safety by ensuring serious offenders who are seen as posing an unacceptable risk to public safety are no longer entitled to automatic early release. By giving the discretion to bring a prisoner's release date forward by up to two days, it will ensure more timely access to support services that assist prisoners who have left custody to better reintegrate into their communities. This approach will help reduce reoffending and keep our communities safer.

221. Working with other justice organisations, the Scottish Prison Service will implement strategic priorities from its Organisational Review, including working with prisoners and with partners in other services to support more effective reintegration and a reduction in reoffending, as part of wider justice programmes. In addition, the Scottish Government will introduce during 2015 a new independent monitoring service for prisons in Scotland, involving members of the local community in conducting visits to prisons to monitor the conditions of prisons and the treatment of prisoners, in line with Scotland's obligations to promote and protect human rights.

222. Following from recommendations made by Lord Cullen in his 2009 Review of Fatal Accident Inquiry legislation, the Scottish Government will introduce a Fatal Accident Inquiries Bill intended to help modernise the way in which fatal accident inquiries are handled in Scotland.

223. Following on from the Legal Writings (Counterparts and Delivery) Bill, currently being scrutinised by the Scottish Parliament, the Scottish Government will continue to identify opportunities to make use of the new legislative procedure which was established to improve the rate of implementation of reports from the Scottish Law Commission.

224. The second Bill which will be proposed for this procedure, if it satisfies the necessary criteria, is the Succession Bill. It will implement a number of the recommendations contained in the Scottish Law Commission Report on Succession published in 2009. We also plan to consult in the coming year on further legislation on succession which will aim to radically overhaul the current law in this area. As part of this modernisation the distinction between movable and immovable property would be removed to give children, spouses and civil partners appropriate legal rights over both forms of property. This should ensure a just distribution of assets among a deceased's close family to reflect both societal change and expectations. These changes will be an important aspect of our series of measures in respect of land reform.

FATAL ACCIDENT INQUIRIES BILL

The Fatal Accident Inquiries (FAI) Bill will provide the legislative framework needed to implement the remaining recommendations of Lord Cullen's Review of the operation of the Fatal Accident and Sudden Deaths Inquiries (Scotland) Act 1976 to help modernise the way FAIs are handled in Scotland.

The Government proposes a Bill that will:

  • Build on the recommendations implemented by the Crown Office to make the system more efficient.
  • Extend the categories of death in which it is mandatory to hold a fatal accident inquiry.
  • Place a requirement on those to whom sheriffs direct recommendations at the conclusion of the inquiry to respond.
  • Permit discretionary FAIs into deaths of Scots abroad where the body is repatriated to Scotland.
  • Provide flexibility for the locations and accommodation for FAIs.

225. A robust approach to parliamentary probity already exists in Scotland and the Scottish Parliament has strict rules around lobbying activity which has helped ensure that many of the difficulties which have arisen at Westminster have not arisen in Scotland. However, it is essential that the legislative and non-statutory framework in this area is kept under review and improvements made where it is appropriate to do so.

226. The Scottish Government has committed to take forward the development of a Lobbying Transparency Bill. The Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee is currently conducting a comprehensive and wide-ranging Inquiry into the topic, hearing from a broad range of stakeholders as well as MSPs. The Government is currently awaiting the Committee's conclusions, due in early 2015, and these findings will be key to determining the best way forward.

SUCCESSION BILL

The Succession Bill will provide the legal framework for implementing a number of the recommendations contained in the Scottish Law Commission (SLC) Report on Succession published in 2009. The reforms will address a number of anomalies within the current legislative framework so that the law in this area is fairer, clearer and more consistent.

Among other measures the Bill will:

  • Remove the requirement for executors to obtain a bond of caution.
  • Close a number of jurisdictional gaps so that where Scots law is the applicable law, the Scottish courts will have jurisdiction.
  • Reform how wills may be rectified by the courts.
  • Reform how survivorship should operate.
  • Clarify the effect of divorce, dissolution or annulment or the birth of a child on a will.