Strategic Approach 2014-2017
1 Pockets - Maximising household resources
Our aim is to maximise household resources in order to ensure that as few children grow up in poor households as possible.
A household's income has a major impact on the occupants' ability to take up opportunities that would help them become confident, responsible individuals who thrive and contribute to Scottish society. While a household's assets are not purely material and comprise much more than financial income, increasing incomes for poor families is still an important means for achieving better outcomes and a better future for our children.
Clearly progress on the key outcomes in this area is very closely related to progress on those for Prospects. An example of this is around childcare. Appropriate provision of high-quality childcare can promote gender equality, enhance parental employment prospects and hence maximise household resources. It can also drive development in the early years, building children's capabilities and capacities and improving their life chances. It therefore makes a substantial contribution to our approach, reflected in its inclusion in current legislative proposals and our most recent funding commitments.
In order to maximise household resources, we will look at the following key outcomes:
- Maximised financial entitlements of families on low incomes
- Reduced household spend of families on low incomes
- Families on low incomes are managing finances appropriately and accessing all financial entitlements
- Parents are in good quality, sustained employment in line with skills and ambitions
1.1 Pockets - Maximised financial entitlements and reduced household spend of families on low incomes
It is clear that a family's financial position can be greatly improved if the household income is as high as it can be while at the same time making every effort to keep bills for housing, power, transport, food and other essentials as low as possible.
At a time when the UK Government's austerity programme and the increased costs for basics like fuel and childcare are placing household budgets under financial pressure, we will continue to protect household incomes through the social wage. We will continue to:
- take positive action to help support hard-pressed families and individuals by defending and extending certain core universal services, rights and benefits
- support free personal care for the elderly, abolition of tuition fees, scrapping of bridge tolls and prescription charges, free eye examinations, freezing council tax, concessionary bus passes and increase the provision of free nursery education
- implement a fair pay policy that supports the lower paid and promote the Living Wage
Free School Meals
In addition to these social wage commitments, Scottish Ministers are clear about the benefits of providing children and young people living in poverty with a healthy meal at school. They are proud of the actions that they have taken in recent years to extend the entitlement to free school meals. In 2013, over 130,000 children and young people were registered to receive a free school meal which represents a 17.3% increase since 2007.
On 7 January 2014 the First Minister announced plans to further extend the entitlement. From January 2015 all children in primary 1-3 will have the option to access a free meal at school. This is a long standing commitment of the Scottish Government and will:
- build on, and learn from the pilots we established and evaluated in five Local Authorities in 2007 and 2008 which were designed to improve the nation's health and encourage good eating habits16
- remove any possibility of free school meals being a source of stigma during the first years of a child's schooling
- allow families to keep more of their income by saving around £330 per year for every child if they take a meal every day
The Scottish Government has committed to work with Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) to consider the practical implications arising from the announcement and help to prepare Local Authorities to deliver the commitment.
The Scottish Government will also continue to consider what further action is necessary to protect access to free school meals in light of welfare reforms.
Education Maintenance Allowance
Scottish Ministers recognise the financial barriers that young people from low income and disadvantaged families can face when trying to access and maintain a place in learning. The Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA), introduced in Scotland in 2004, provides a financial incentive directly to young people from low income families to remain in learning. In academic year 2011/12, 34,390 school pupils and college students received EMA payments in Scotland with a total spend of £27.6 million. EMAs have demonstrably positive impacts on young people including improved attendance in schools and colleges, improved retention in colleges, greater financial independence amongst pupils and students and increased attainment of learners from the most deprived areas.
Scottish Ministers remain committed to having this support in place for the lowest income households.
Income Maximisation Funding
We will continue to support key organisations in order to help maximise household incomes. These include One Parent Families Scotland (OPFS), Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) and Macmillan Cancer Support. Each has a different strength that they bring to tackling poverty. These include providing training to front line advice staff and providing specialist help to lone parents and families affected by cancer and other long term conditions. They all make a significant contribution to developing Scottish Government policy and we will continue to draw evidence from this work as we engage with them to tackle child poverty.
The three main factors which influence fuel poverty levels are household income, fuel prices and energy efficiency of the home. However, whilst the welfare benefits system and the regulation of energy companies are reserved matters and overall energy/fuel prices are dictated by the market, the responsibility for energy efficiency of the home, setting Scottish fuel targets and policy is a devolved issue. The Scottish Government's main area of influence in tackling fuel poverty therefore is through improving energy efficiency of the home and maximising income through, for example, benefits advice, and reducing cost through tariff advice.
The Scottish Government aims to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, that people are not living in fuel poverty in Scotland by November 2016. We are committed to tackling fuel poverty and will continue to take measures to do everything within our limited powers to meet the Scottish Fuel Poverty Target. The Scottish Government has created the Home Energy Efficiency Programme for Scotland and for each of the next two years, spending plans have allocated funding of £79 million for tackling fuel poverty, which will be used to maximise leverage of additional investment from major energy companies through the Energy Companies Obligation to tackle fuel poverty and improve energy efficiency in the home.
Welfare Reform Mitigation
Westminster's welfare cuts could reduce benefits in Scotland by over £4.5 billion in the five years to 2015 - around £1 billion of which would relate directly to children17. Mitigating the full impact of these cuts will not be possible. However, we will do what we can under the current constitutional settlement, making the argument for fairer reform. Where we have responsibility, we are investing to support vulnerable people. Our current and planned spending will invest at least £258 million over the period 2013/14 to 2015/16 to limit the damage of Westminster's welfare policies on Scotland.
- We will continue to work with our local government partners to ensure that people in Scotland who were receiving Council Tax Benefit are protected from the UK Government's 10% cut in successor arrangement funding. Over 2014/15, we will roll forward our contribution of £23 million and local government have confirmed that they will again contribute £17 million
- In 2014/15, we will maintain the funding levels of the Scottish Welfare Fund (SWF) which is providing £33 million to support some 200,000 people. One of the ways we have done this is by ensuring Community Care Grants can be awarded to help families facing exceptional pressures
- We have also provided Scottish Local Authorities with an extra £20 million this year and £22.85 million in 2014/15 for Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) to mitigate the impacts of the so called "bedroom tax". In addition we will provide a further £12 million for DHPs subject to DWP lifting the scheme cap - or a separate scheme designed to ensure that no tenant need face eviction as a result solely of the "bedroom tax"
- In order to assist Local Authorities, we will liaise with the UK Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) on how they should support Local Authorities with new burdens. We are funding, through the Improvement Service, a programme to deliver practical support to Local Authorities and partnerships
- In addition to these specific measures, we continue to engage with DWP on a range of issues, including Universal Credit, which impact on our ability to deliver on our devolved responsibilities. A key consideration in these discussions is the impact on those groups most affected, including children and families.
Welfare Funds (Scotland) Bill
The Scottish Welfare Fund (SWF) has been running since April 2013, providing support to people in crisis.
Local Authorities are delivering the SWF using guidance provided by the Scottish Government. Under the scheme, Local Authorities have been paying out two types of grants, Crisis Grants, to support people in an emergency, or disaster, and Community Care Grants, to help people avoid institutional care, or for families, including those with children, facing exceptional pressures.
The SWF provides localised welfare support that benefits from a more holistic approach. Local Authorities are linking to services, such as budgeting or other money advice, to increase the capacity of families with children to manage better in the longer term.
The tight deadline for developing the SWF meant that it was not realistic to have the necessary legislation in place before the Fund had to be operational. We therefore decided to introduce the Fund on an interim basis.
Learning from the initial experiences of the interim scheme, and from a public consultation on a draft Bill, we are putting the SWF on a more secure statutory footing, with the introduction of the Welfare Funds (Scotland) Bill.
The Welfare Funds (Scotland) Bill will:
- set out the purpose of the Fund
- place a duty on Local Authorities to deliver the Scottish Welfare Fund
- make outline provision for the review of cases where an applicant wishes to challenge a decision
- set out that those delivering the Scottish Welfare Fund should report in a manner to be set out in regulations
We plan to introduce the Bill by June 2014.
1.2 Pockets - Families on low incomes are managing finances appropriately and accessing all financial entitlements
We recognise that there is currently sustained pressure on household budgets for families. Our efforts to maximise household resources underpin the overall approach to tackling poverty and a crucial aspect of this is the way in which we support and empower families to reduce debt and take greater control of their finances to relieve this pressure.
Access to appropriate financial services, information and advice can make a significant impact on the material wellbeing of families. The focus on financial capability as a means of tackling one of the causes of poverty and deprivation rather than the symptoms, underpins the wide range of activity underway. The aim of this work is to develop the ability and confidence of individuals so that they have the motivation and skills to manage their finances, can engage confidently with banks and other providers of financial services and make better informed decisions about financial products such as insurance and loans.
In order to support this aim, we are taking a range of actions to ensure that people receive the right support when they need it most. These actions include:
- Providing funding, along with the Money Advice Service, to the Scottish Legal Aid Board to distribute to organisations providing advice and support services for those affected by welfare reform
- The changes being introduced by the Accountant in Bankruptcy (AiB) through the Bankruptcy and Debt Advice (Scotland) Bill and plans for the Financial Health Service that will have a focus on financial education
- Through Curriculum for Excellence, young people are being encouraged to develop better money management skills, including budgeting and understanding credit and debt
The combined impact of these efforts is not simply about responding at the point of need or developing skills for the future. Through these actions, we are intent on building the capacity of information and advice services, the community and the individual to respond to the range of challenges and barriers that can stop people from realising their full potential.
Financial Health Service/Financial Capability
In June 2013 we introduced the Bankruptcy and Debt Advice (Scotland) Bill 2013 with the aim of ensuring that fair and proportionate debt management and debt relief mechanisms are available to the people of Scotland, modernising bankruptcy for the 21st century.
The aims of the Bill are in line with AiB's vision of a Financial Health Service, to provide rehabilitation to people and organisations in relation to their financial pressures. The Bill will require that everyone accesses money advice before entering any statutory debt solution; it will provide financial capability education for those who are assessed as vulnerable to recurring problem debt; and it will help make sure that those who can pay, do pay, thus delivering the best return for creditors. A single budgeting tool will be used to ensure those in debt receive a fair, standard and transparent assessment of their surplus income and ability to pay.
This new legislation will better serve the interests of the people of Scotland, while ensuring the rights and needs of those in debt are balanced with the needs of creditors and businesses.
Financial education is a key part of the Financial Health Service concept and therefore in partnership with Money Advice Scotland, the Scottish Government is developing a financial capability learning module. The module is designed to develop the user's skills and understanding and enable them to be better equipped to budget, source affordable credit, ensure they are appropriately insured, maximise their income through tax and welfare benefit systems and consider how to plan for their future wellbeing. Although the resource is being developed as part of the Scottish Government's measures to prevent recurring debt issues, it can be used more widely by financial institutions, churches and community groups to help individuals and families manage their finances better to avoid unmanageable debt and maximise their income. It may also be adapted to be used in schools.
Also, in partnership with Money Advice Scotland, the Scottish Government is working to develop standards and competencies for money advisers relating to financial capability. This will ensure consistent and high quality advice is provided from accredited organisations. £200,000 is being provided this financial year to support this activity.
The Financial Health Service concept will be developed in 2014, ensuring that the people of Scotland have access to money and debt advice and affordable credit and that financial education is available to all.
The Scottish Government recognises the valuable role that credit unions play in providing financial services and products to a wide range of customers, including those facing financial exclusion. We engage with credit union representatives to make sure that we are doing as much as possible to support and promote them. This includes the new Enterprise Ready Fund (ERF) which will distribute £6 million during 2013-2015 to help maintain, develop and grow Scotland's enterprising third sector. As part of the third sector, we actively encourage credit unions to apply for business support training like the Just Enterprise programme (JE). We are also raising awareness of the dangers of taking out pay day loans and suggesting that credit unions may be able to offer customers alternative, affordable lending options. We are encouraging partnership working between business trade bodies, including Confederation of British Industry, and Chambers of Commerce and credit union trade bodies, including the Association of British Credit Unions Limited, to ensure that employers and employees are aware of the benefits of credit union membership. The Scottish Government has a payroll deduction scheme in place for employees. As well as promoting the benefits of credit union membership to its staff, the Scottish Government is working in partnership with COSLA, the Church of Scotland and other faith bodies to promote credit unions in their local communities.
Curriculum for Excellence (CfE)
Education Scotland offers a range of on-line teaching resources to support the development of financial education skills in the classroom. As financial education is part of a wider focus on numeracy in the curriculum, the expectation is that all teachers have responsibility for developing young people's numeracy skills, in all areas and at all levels.
Money Talks: Family Finances is a new interactive financial education resource for primary and secondary pupils. It introduces young people to the Christie family - from 82 year old granny, Jill, to the youngest family member, Sally. The resource gives an insight into the finances of: mother, Janet Christie, a dental receptionist; father, John Christie, an IT specialist; their children Jenni, Kenny and Sally; grandmother, Granny Christie; and Aunt Barbara. A detailed bank statement and personal profile on each family member, including qualifications, skills and characteristics, allow young people to analyse how the family spends its money, whether any savings are made and how the members of the family and their finances are interconnected. The resource has been prepared in line with Curriculum for Excellence and is available from Education Scotland.
1.3 Pockets - Parents are in good quality, sustained employment in line with skills and ambitions
The availability of employment opportunities remains at the root of tackling child poverty in Scotland. Increasing sustainable economic growth plays a crucial part in creating jobs. Supporting business, enterprise, and entrepreneurship, stimulating the labour market, and broader efforts to promote Scotland's sustainable economic growth are all critical factors determining the availability of employment.
In recent years, in-work poverty has become an increasingly significant issue for families in Scotland, with over half of children in poverty living in households where at least one person is working. This clearly illustrates the continued importance of making employment available and that we must focus more than ever on the quality and sustainability of that employment, particularly for parents.
Along with creating jobs and prosperity, there is an increased need for business to engage in social issues and comply with environmental regulations. The current economic landscape, pressure on public sector finance, increasing global competition and developments in procurement are stimulating businesses to develop more sustainable business models, engage more effectively with their communities and help people to become more economically active. A coordinated approach to fairer employment and community investment will provide more opportunities to tackle poverty and raise prosperity in Scotland. Businesses can contribute in-kind and financial resources to benefit vulnerable groups by raising awareness of skills, welfare reform, schools and education and childcare initiatives.
Fair pay is a key strategic aim of this Government's pay policy - we believe in a fair and equal Scotland and this is reflected in our policies. Our Public Sector Pay Policy balances a range of measures to preserve public sector jobs in the face of deep budget cuts - enhancing economic confidence and providing security for thousands of workers. We have taken action to raise minimum pay rates across all areas of the public sector under Ministerial control since taking office in 2007. We fully support the Living Wage campaign and are leading by example by ensuring all public sector staff under our direct control receive at least the Scottish Living Wage rate (£7.65 p/h from April 2014), and will do for the duration of this Parliament. We are pleased that all Scottish Local Authorities have now also made the commitment to pay the Living Wage to all of their staff.
Employers in the private sector have been slower to adopt the Living Wage, but there are some signs that when encouraged to do so, many employers will make the move to becoming a Living Wage employer. This is why we are supporting the Living Wage Accreditation project being taken forward by the Poverty Alliance during 2013/14 and 2014/15. The aim is to increase the number of accredited employers paying the Living Wage in all sectors in Scotland as well as improving the understanding of the role and function of the Living Wage amongst employers in Scotland, particularly amongst private sector employers.
Improving access to affordable early learning and childcare has the potential to substantially boost the labour market in Scotland by reducing a key barrier to participation faced by some parents with young children.
For those parents who are most economically vulnerable, affordable childcare can provide a route out of worklessness and an opportunity for increased access to a rewarding career. There is a strong evidence base to link the availability of affordable and accessible childcare to the employment opportunities parents can access.
On 7 January 2014 the First Minister announced action to expand childcare to our most vulnerable two year olds. With an investment of £15 million, we will extend our childcare offer of 600 hours per year to two year olds in workless households from August 2014. We will further extend this offer to two year olds who would meet the current free school meals criteria from August 2015, giving an overall investment of £44 million. This reflects our absolute commitment to expanding childcare in a phased and sustainable way.
Coupled with the Children and Young People Bill proposals for three year olds, four year olds and those two year olds who are looked after or subject to a kinship care order, we will be providing childcare for around 15% of two year olds from 2014, and 27% from 2015.
We are targeting first those for whom we know the short and long term benefits are greatest - by overcoming barriers to employment and therefore improving longer term child outcomes.
The Scottish Government is committed to helping more unemployed individuals achieve their full potential in the labour market. In September 2012 we launched Working for Growth; A Refresh of the Employability Framework for Scotland. This provides a clear framework for the future, and seeks to strengthen our combined focus on jobs and growth. The economic downturn resulted in an increased demand for employment and an increased number of highly qualified individuals looking for work. Working for Growth sets out our priorities in line with the Christie report on Public Service Reform: effective leadership; greater integration and partnership working; tackling inequality and improving performance.
Work to implement the actions set out in Working for Growth will continue. The Scottish Employability Forum, chaired jointly by UK, Scottish and Local Government, has agreed priorities for action. These include work to better link employability and economic development; research on how resources are currently allocated to help inform decisions about future spend; actions to improve performance measurement and work to develop a better understanding of the impact that welfare reforms are having on employability services.
We also continue to promote supported employment to our network of Local Employability Partnerships as a successful approach to help disabled people into employment, and have committed to work with DWP as it implements its Disability Employment Strategy, in order to ensure that any new services take account of the different structures and services in Scotland.
To further support our Local Employability Partnerships in their work to help people from a Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) background into work, we have commissioned updated guidance which will be published in 2014, alongside a range of other toolkits and examples of good practice in relation to specific groups on our website (www.employabilityinscotland.com).
Strategic Group on Women and Work
Working for Growth also commits to implementing the recommendations from the Women's Employment Summit held in September 2013. The Summit highlighted the significant issues parents face in getting into and progressing in work, from access to training and childcare to more general problems of occupational segregation which means that women are often working in sectors with low paid, insecure jobs. In the coming period, we will test a range of actions supporting different groups of women in the labour market.
- Between 2013 and 2015, we will test Careerwise, a £250,000 Fund to promote science and engineering careers to both attract and retain women to these sectors.
- We are funding the evaluation of the employability training course delivered by Women onto Work, a training organisation offering women only support. The evaluation will provide an insight into whether gender specific training can help more women into work.
- We will work with partners on the development of vocational ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) for women for whom English is not their first language. This approach has been shown to be effective and we will test training in non-traditional sectors, such as bio-science.
- We will continue to work closely with the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) on supporting women in low paid sectors and in particular how they can access money and health advice services in the workplace.
- Following the National Business Summit held in June 2012, we are encouraging businesses to promote family-friendly working practices. The Scottish Government sponsored a new Institute of Directors Award to recognise flexible and family friendly working in 2013 and will do so again in 2014 to showcase good practice.
2 Prospects - Improved Life Chances Of Children In Poverty
Ministers want Scotland to be the best place in the world to grow up, and to bring up children. Our vision is a Scotland where children are valued, where their parents, families and communities are empowered to give them the support they need and where the inequalities gap is recognised and addressed.
Our priority is meeting the needs of young children first and foremost and there is a wealth of evidence to indicate that getting it right in the early years has long-lasting benefits to children in terms of future outcomes.
That is why our approach, articulated through the Early Years Framework, places a strong emphasis on giving children, particularly those who are most disadvantaged, the best possible start in life. This approach to early intervention and prevention is reflected in our commitments through the Early Years Change Fund and continues on through Curriculum for Excellence, Opportunities for All, widening access to higher education and to the professions.
For example in December 2013 we established the Social Work Services Strategic Forum chaired by the Minister for Children and Young People. The development of a Vision and Strategy for Social Work Services in Scotland is designed to improve people's lives and strengthen the workforce that delivers these services.
As outlined in the introduction, we continue to place children and children's needs firmly at the centre, focusing on building capabilities, on nurturing and the importance of consistent parenting. But also through GIRFEC, recognising how practitioners across all services for children and adults can meet the needs of children and young people, to ensure they reach their full potential.
Our Children and Young People Bill is another key building block in taking forward our ambition for Scotland's children. It will have a fundamental influence on the way we approach children and young people, their rights, their wellbeing and their outcomes.
By enshrining elements of the GIRFEC approach in law, the Bill will ensure there is a single planning approach for children who need additional support from services, create a single point of contact for every child and provide a holistic understanding of wellbeing. Poverty remains a key barrier to improving the wellbeing and outcomes of children.
Through the Bill, Local Authorities and Health Boards will now jointly develop children's services plans that show how services across the whole of a local area will affect the wellbeing of children and young people. The guidance to be developed on these plans will highlight the importance of the plans showing how services can take account of child poverty and support vulnerable children, young people and families.
There are clear links between progress on those outcomes related to pockets and those related to places, as reflected in the comments in the previous section on childcare. Maximising household resources and incomes are key elements in tackling child poverty but we continue to focus also on those key elements in relation to prospects which can impact most on children's lives and life chances:
- Children from low income households have improving levels of physical and mental health
- Children from low income households have improving relative levels of educational attainment, achieving their full potential
- Children from low income households experience social inclusion and display social competence
- Young people from low income backgrounds are in good quality, sustained employment in line with skills and ambitions
2.1 Prospects - Children from low income households have improving levels of physical and mental health
Health in Scotland is improving and we continue to take action to address the health inequalities which exist between our more affluent and more deprived communities. As stated in the third report of the Ministerial Task Force on Health Inequalities published in Spring 2014, concentrating solely on health solutions will simply not end the problem, there is a need to deal with the socio-economic inequalities in society. Children in the most deprived areas have significantly worse health compared to children living in the least deprived areas (lower birth-weight, poorer dental health, higher obesity levels, higher rates of teenage pregnancy, less likely to be breastfed). However, health in Scotland is improving and people are living longer. We have already taken significant action to address alcohol consumption, encourage people to cut down and give up smoking earlier as well as avoid starting in the first place, encourage active living and healthy eating and promote positive mental health. But we know we must do more to encourage approaches which are co‑produced and use communities' assets together with pressing ahead on areas like minimum pricing and plain packaging for cigarettes, as part of our on-going efforts to improve the health of the nation and increase healthy life expectancy.
The National Parenting Strategy stated that we would assess what new information or guidance is needed to help parents make healthier and more informed choices for themselves and their children. We are working to improve food labelling and marketing, making it easier for parents to make healthy choices.
We have introduced a range of measures to improve diet and are spending over £7.5 million over the period 2012-2015 on projects including the Healthy Living Award, Healthy Living Programme and the Healthier Scotland Cooking Bus.
Family Nurse Partnership
Following the early phase of the programme - intensive, preventative home visits for first-time, teenage parents - we have announced a further £11 million to roll it out across Scotland, giving some of Scotland's most vulnerable children the best possible start in life. We have pledged to increase places to 2,000 and have at least one team in each viable Health Board area by end of 2015.
The programme's main aims are to improve maternal health, child health and development and family economic self-sufficiency. It aims to introduce a new approach to nursing, working with the parent to help them build up their own skills and resources to parent their child well and to think about their own future aspirations.
The Parenting Strategy said we would involve parents and carers as well as children themselves in our healthy weight programmes that incorporate diet, physical activity and behaviour change. An NHS HEAT18 target for the provision of 6,317 child healthy weight interventions set for 2008-2011 was exceeded. Boards are now working towards a new overall target of 14,910 further interventions by March 2014. We are committed to supporting child healthy weight services and have asked an expert group to examine the interventions and any new evidence and make recommendations on how such work should develop.
Carers and Young Carers
The Scottish Government will continue to implement the Caring Together - Carers Strategy for Scotland - 2010-2015 and Getting it Right for Young Carers - Young Carers Strategy for Scotland 2010-15 http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2010/07/23153304/2
Both Strategies highlight the importance of tackling poverty and financial inclusion to ensure carers and young carers are supported in their caring responsibilities and have a life outside of caring.
Income Maximisation for Carers
Increasingly, Community Partnerships are enhancing mainstream services which address income maximisation, debt advice and financial capability. Carers' centres, national carers' organisations and others provide advice on benefits and income maximisation. Where voluntary services are located in GP practices to advise and support carers and young carers, there has been a take-up in applications to benefits by carers.
The Scottish Government's guidance to NHS Boards on Carers Information Strategy (CIS) funding includes, as one of the priorities, income maximisation and financial inclusion for carers and young carers. For 2008-2015 CIS funding amounts to nearly £29 million. This funding has been allocated to support local initiatives such as the South Lanarkshire Carers Network, employing Welfare Rights Officers who have a focus on financial inclusion for carers.
To support young carers in schools we have funded the Eryc and Trayc primary school pack which helped to identify and support young carers. As a follow on to this, we are working in partnership with the Scottish Young Service Alliance to launch a secondary school pack to identify and support young carers.
We have provided £95,000 over two years to the College Development Network for a workforce development initiative which will train staff in the Further Education sector to identify and support carers.
We will bring forward legislation within this Parliament to support carers and young carers, having launched a consultation on proposed measures on 22 January 2014. This legislation will introduce a range of measures that will support carers and young carers to:
- improve their health and wellbeing
- continue in their caring role
- have a life alongside caring
- access community support networks
Youth Sport Strategy
Nearly £6 million will ensure schools have the best quality physical education lessons ahead of the Commonwealth Games. The funding will help support better youth sport and will capitalise on the enthusiasm for the Commonwealth Games and the Ryder Cup. This has been shaped by the Young People's Sport Panel (YPSP), a group of 16 people between the ages of 14 and 25 who are passionate about sport and want to make a difference.
Some programmes, such as Active Girls, recognise the imperative to make sure that sport truly is for all. We recognise that for some children and young people, existing provision may not adequately meet their needs and we want to do more to understand and address this. Some of this can be tackled through better education and continuing professional development for those working with children and young people and some of this may require specific programmes that reach young people in ways that better suit their particular needs.
The Co-operative Young Volunteer Programme delivered by Street Games in partnership with Youth Scotland, focuses on encouraging young people to be involved in and support the development of community doorstep sport in their youth groups and clubs. The programme provides young people with opportunities, training and residential experiences to support and develop them to be confident volunteers. It also provides training and resources for volunteer managers to ensure they provide young people with the best support. Through the partnership with Youth Scotland there are ten groups currently part of the programme in Scotland.
2.2 Prospects - Children from low income households have improving relative levels of educational attainment, achieving their full potential
Raising attainment for all and closing the gap between children who are most and least advantaged are key priorities for the Scottish Government. However, this does not require starting from a blank sheet.
Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) is an ambitious programme to improve life chances, raise ambition and attainment and will ensure all our children are prepared for the future. It aims to raise standards, improve knowledge and develop skills through more coherent and flexible learning for ages 3-18. CfE empowers teachers, schools and their leaders to take advantage of the freedoms available to innovate and vary how learning and teaching is delivered, where they see clear benefits for their pupils.
The foundations of a successful education system lie in the quality of teachers and their leadership. The implementation of Teaching Scotland's Future will build on existing strengths by providing a stronger and more coherent early phase of teacher education; enhanced opportunities for professional learning including learning at masters level; a greater range of leadership learning opportunities as well as the establishment of a Scottish College for Educational Leadership.
CfE and Teaching Scotland's Future programmes together with GIRFEC, the Early Years Collaborative and the Post-16 Widening Access agenda, all contribute to providing a framework for this focus on closing the equity gap and raising attainment.
These are long term programmes which need time to realise their full transformative potential. The OECD PISA figures, published on 3 December 2013, show a reduction in the impact of deprivation on performance between disadvantaged and less disadvantaged pupils for all three domains (Reading, Maths and Science) compared to 2009. However, the fact that our system as a whole has not yet managed to erode the gap, despite the power and energy of these programmes, suggests further specific work is needed to further align these with each other, and to ensure that each of them consciously embed a focus on raising attainment and closing the gap into aspects of their work planning.
Specific activities we now have in place include:
- The School Improvement Partnership Programme (SIPP) which draws on international educational research and practice which demonstrates that the most effective school improvements are locally owned and led by teachers and school leaders working in partnership and collaboration with like-minded professionals. Where there is a shared commitment to improving outcomes for all children and young people, well-supported partnerships can lead to significant and sustained improvement and raised attainment. Long term partnerships where schools tackle issues of mutual concern bring mutual success - especially where this forms part of existing improvement planning.
- We have launched a series of "pathfinders" with six schools across Scotland to explore if and how a structured approach to improvement could be helpful to schools in securing a consistent approach to raising attainment, and particularly to reducing inequity. These pathfinder schools have been working together to test the usefulness of structured improvement methodology which is currently working well in the Health sector and beginning to show results in early years. The evidence emerging from these pathfinders and from elsewhere suggests that this approach to improvement will support schools in their work to raise attainment and close the equity gap.
- Our Literacy Action Plan published in October 2010, is raising literacy standards for all and is breaking the link between deprivation and poor literacy skills. The plan is being overseen by the Standing Literacy Commission. There is a wide range of work on-going to improve literacy standards, including establishing four literacy hubs in which Local Authorities have joined up through voluntary consortia and can share their successful literacy approaches more systematically across the country. We are also now supporting six Local Authority numeracy hubs who are sharing successful approaches towards improving local numeracy strategies and outcomes for young people (along the same lines as the literacy hubs).
- The innovative Senior Phase Benchmarking Tool (SPBT) will help Local Authorities and secondary schools to use certain data to improve understanding of strengths and areas for improvement in the senior phase of secondary school. The SPBT includes four measures on the national dashboard: increasing post-school participation which looks at the destinations of school leavers; improving attainment in literacy and numeracy, measuring performance at level 4 and above and level 5 and above; improving attainment for all looking at the top performing 20%, the middle performing 60% and the lowest performing 20%; and tackling disadvantage by improving attainment of lower attainers relative to higher attainers by measuring performance at the various Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation deciles. A further set of local measures provides information covering curricular areas, courses and by stage. The Tool is being tested through various editions of a prototype and the live version will be available to Local Authorities and schools towards the end of August 2014.
- The GIRFEC self-evaluation tool has been developed for leaders and staff teams in pre-5 establishments and schools to support self-evaluation. It looks specifically at developing the GIRFEC approach within an education setting, but fits within the overall self-evaluation framework familiar to education professionals.
- Work on improving family engagement in children's education is underway including the collation and sharing of evidence based practice for teachers and schools. We are also continuing to improve information for parents through the new CfE leaflet for parents published in 2013 and a refresh of Scottish Schools Online.
- The National Strategic Group on Educational Attainment is a multi-agency group set up following a commitment by the Scottish Government and COSLA to have a clear focus on raising attainment and fill any gaps in provision that exist. One of the priorities of this group will be to consider how we can most effectively work with and support parents and families.
Business Links with Schools
Employers have a key contribution to make to learning within CfE and are well placed to help develop young people's employability skills through partnerships with schools. There are many examples of schools working closely with local businesses to run enterprise and employability programmes as well as opportunities for meaningful work experience, as part of their curriculum. The Commission for Developing Scotland's Young Workforce Interim Report details examples of good practice.
The SQA have published information for employers on the new national qualifications, to help them understand why they are needed and what is changing. We are planning a series of events with schools and employers across the country, linking up with local Chambers of Commerce and the Federation of Small Businesses in Scotland.
Scotland's Commissioner for Children and Young People
Scotland's Commissioner for Children and Young People and Save the Children have been working in partnership with a group of young researchers to examine the impact of poverty on young people's educational experiences and their achievement at school focusing entirely on the views of children and young people themselves. Detailed results and a final report will be published in Spring 2014. We will consider the findings of this report to develop our understanding of what children and young people think about poverty and how this impacts upon their experiences at school.
Youth Work Strategy
Education Scotland have published a draft Youth Work Strategy, encouraging partners in the youth work and Community Learning and Development sectors to work together to maximise the life chances of Scotland's young people.
2.3 Prospects - Children from low income households experience social inclusion and display social competence
Social competence is being able to get on with other people. It involves the ability to establish and maintain relationships with other people. The curriculum framework for children in their pre-school year highlights emotional, personal and social development as a key area for the planning and assessment of children's development. The guidelines on 5-14 curriculum and assessment include guidelines on personal and social development, with specific attention to the development of self-awareness, self-esteem, interdependence and relationships with others. Such relationships underpin successful learning, as they are the key to motivation and engagement with the values and ideas of CfE. When children and young people have good relationships, they are more likely to feel self-esteem and confidence with regard to their learning, to show resilience when faced with personal challenges, and to show respect for others.
Early Years Taskforce
The Taskforce was established in November 2011 and its role is to develop the strategic direction for the early years change programme and to co-ordinate policy across Government and the wider public sector, to ensure that early years spending is prioritised by the whole public sector.
The Early Years Change Fund of £274.25 million is delivering a range of activity on family centres and family support, child and maternal health, play, childcare and early education and is made up of contributions from the Scottish Government, Local Authorities and health boards. The establishment of the Early Years Collaborative continues this commitment. The Collaborative is a multi-agency local quality improvement programme delivered at a national scale, taking forward the vision and priorities of the Early Years Taskforce.
The Taskforce have agreed to extend the reach of the Early Years Collaborative with the addition of a workstream focused on ages 5-8. The aim of this workstream is to ensure that 90% of all children in each Community Planning Partnership area have reached all of the expected developmental milestones and learning outcomes by the end of Primary 4, by the end of 2021.
National Play Strategy
We are a nation which values play as a life-enhancing daily experience for all our children and young people; in homes, nurseries, schools and communities. This is why the Scottish Government published Scotland's first national Play Strategy on 21 June 2013.
Children's play is crucial to Scotland's wellbeing, socially, economically and environmentally - our people are our greatest resource and the early years of life set the pattern for children's future development. Creating an environment that provides rich play experiences is critical in meeting the needs of our children and young people. Offering them choices to develop the skills of expression, thought, curiosity, movement, problem solving and achievement provides a sound basis for fostering the development of useful skills and attributes which will serve them well throughout life. As children grow they can continue to hone these skills, contributing to family life and the wider community through shared activities and hobbies, sport, recreation and leisure activities, developing management and leadership skills and supporting younger children to participate.
Children and Young People (Scotland) Bill
The Children and Young People (Scotland) Bill is founded on the key principles of early intervention and prevention, an approach that the Scottish Government is committed to, that is designed to deliver better outcomes for the people of Scotland, more efficient use of public services and sustainable economic growth. Evidence shows that effective early intervention and prevention can help break recurring cycles of poor social outcomes, and prevent extensive and expensive responses from public services at a later stage. The purpose of this Bill is to address the challenges faced by children and young people who experience poor outcomes throughout their lives. It will:
- Ensure that children's rights properly influence the design and delivery of policies and services by placing new duties on Scottish Ministers and the public sector and by increasing the powers of Scotland's Commissioner for Children and Young People
- Strengthen the role of early years support in children's and families' lives by increasing the amount and flexibility of funded early learning and childcare
- Improve the way services support children and families by ensuring cooperation between services, with the child at the centre
- Ensure better permanence planning for looked-after children by extending and improving the support available for those in care, care leavers and kinship carers, and by making compulsory the use of Scotland's National Adoption Register
2.4 Prospects - Young people from low income backgrounds are in good quality, sustained employment in line with skills and ambitions
Secure employment for young people gives them a firm foundation on which to build their lives. This is not simply a question of personal finances; there are clear benefits to health for individuals and a reduction in inter-generational social problems including poverty.
The investment we are making in early intervention, the implementation of CfE and the reform of our post-16 education system will ensure that any systemic problems in preparing young people for adulthood and the world of work are addressed.
The challenging economic climate has increased the importance of training opportunities as well as further and higher education places. The educational, economic and social benefits these opportunities bring are key to ensuring that Scotland has a well-educated and skilled workforce, capable of attracting - and retaining - interest from employers. This, in turn, will support individuals into employment.
Opportunities for All
Opportunities for All, operational from 1 April 2012, brings together existing national and local policy priorities with the aim of improving the rate of participation in learning, training and employment of young people aged 16-19 years. It builds on 16+ Learning Choices and More Choices, More Chances, committing to guarantee an offer of a place in learning or training to every young person aged 16-19 years not already engaged in education, training or employment. This offer can include staying on at school, going to college or university, or participating in pre-employment training. For Opportunities for All to be most effective, it is important that we understand who the individuals are that are not in education, employment or training in Scotland and where they are.
To do this we are working to embed a national approach to sharing information to identify young people's journey towards employment and identify those who are not in education, employment or training. These new duties, which will commence in April 2014, will improve partners' ability to identify which individuals are in need of support. By doing this we can take a more proactive approach to meeting the aims of Opportunities for All and allow delivery bodies to best tailor the support necessary to meet the needs of young people within their area.
This Government has remained committed to the employed status of apprentices through Scotland's challenging economic times; a commitment followed by other home nations. There have been achievement rates of above 65% since 2007/08 in the face of challenging economic circumstances - with achievements rates at 75% in 2011/12 and 77% in 2012/13. We delivered 25,691 modern apprenticeship starts in 2012/13 and will continue to deliver at least 25,000 modern apprenticeships in every year of this Parliament.
Community Jobs Scotland (CJS)
CJS is now entering its third year and provides support to those young people who have lived through, or are living with, disadvantage. To date, the Scottish Government has invested £29 million in the programme which is operated by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO). Participants receive at least the minimum wage to undertake job related training for a minimum of six months in the third sector and additional training tailored to help them enhance their general employability.
Youth Employment Scotland Fund
The £25 million fund which is being delivered by Local Authorities, is being used to help small businesses (<400 employees) and social enterprises (or other third sector employers) to create up to 10,000 new youth jobs by September 2014 by offering financial incentives to take on young people. These incentives are targeted at work-ready 16-24 year olds who have been unemployed for up to six months. The funding covers half the salary costs for the first six months of the job which means that, from the start, employers are making their own financial investment in employing the young person.
Targeted Employer Recruitment Incentive (ERI)
The Scottish Government has invested £1.5 million over three financial years (2012/13, 2013/14 and 2014/15) to support targeted young people. The aim is to support 1,000 young people aged 16-24 with the transitions to sustainable employment. Targeted young people currently include: care leavers and looked after young people, ex-offenders, young carers and young people with additional needs or disability.
Individual Learning Accounts
Individual Learning Accounts (ILAs) support individuals to improve their skills and gain qualifications. From 1 July 2012, ILA funding has been fully focused on low paid, low skilled and unemployed individuals.
3 Places - Children From Low Income Households Live In Well-Designed, Sustainable Places
The National Performance Framework focuses on reducing geographical, social and economic inequalities. This means we must continue to improve local environments and access to services, particularly in order to benefit those areas of multiple deprivation in which child poverty is more prevalent. Along with our analytical work to understand more about poverty at local levels, we are striving to ensure appropriate local solutions can be applied through assets based approaches involving Community Planning Partnerships, local government and national government. For example, we focus on aspects that enhance people's resilience, which can then have an impact on reducing health inequalities.
Successful Public Service Reform must be led and driven through local partnership and collaboration. There is good evidence that improved outcomes for people, prevention of harm and better use of resources can be achieved when local services are planned and delivered through effective place-based partnership and integrated service provision; bringing the capacities and resources of public, third and independent sector partners together with communities to deliver shared outcomes that meet local people's needs and aspirations.
The third sector with its specialist expertise, ability to engage with vulnerable groups and flexible and innovative approach, has a key role to play in the public service reform and preventative spend agenda. Public-Social Partnerships are a co-production model involving the third sector and public sector as equal partners in the design and delivery of public services that are capable of meeting multiple and complex needs using a holistic person centred approach.
Our approach to Places underpins not only the achievement of the outcomes related to place, but also those relating to Pockets and Prospects.
In this section we look at the following key outcomes:
- Children from low income households live in high quality, sustainable housing
- Children from low income households grow up in places that are socially sustainable
- Children from low income households grow up in places that are physically sustainable
- Children from low income households live in places that are economically sustainable
3.1 Places - Children from low income households live in high quality sustainable housing
Housing is a key part of our physical, economic, and social fabric. Ensuring the availability of high quality, low cost housing forms an essential part of easing the pressure on household budgets. Meeting our population's increasing needs for housing contributes to our Purpose of sustainable economic growth to enable all of Scotland to flourish. It helps us achieve the country's full potential through promoting a more prosperous and equal society and influencing quality of neighbourhoods, better educational and employment opportunities, and improved health and wellbeing. For 2020, our vision is a housing system which provides an affordable home for all. Evidence suggests that accessible, affordable housing and attractive local environments can contribute significantly to our wider aims to tackle poverty and health inequalities and to build confidence and capacity in communities. High quality housing and its surrounding environment helps to give our children the best start in life - for example through play areas where they can develop social skills and improve physical health.
The Scottish Government undertook to develop a Place Standard through a commitment made in the Creating Places' Architecture and Place Policy for Scotland (published in June 2013). This work also addresses the recommendation from Good Places, Better Health, (the Scottish Government's strategy on health and the environment), to develop a "neighbourhood quality framework". It is intended that the Place Standard be a resource that will be used to assess the quality of both existing places and new developments. It will also consider a range of key themes that can impact on the health and quality of life of the people who live in that place.
Affordable Housing Supply Programme (AHSP)
The five year target for AHSP is at least 30,000 affordable homes, of which at least 20,000 will be social homes, including 5,000 Local Authority homes. Increased availability of social housing is a priority for Scottish Government. That is why the Right to Buy social housing is being abolished through the Government's Housing (Scotland) Bill currently before the Scottish Parliament. Ending the Right to Buy is expected to keep up to 15,500 homes in the social housing sector. Rents for social housing should be affordable for tenants in low-paid employment without recourse to benefits.
As well as providing social housing, the AHSP will be delivered through a mixture of housing for low cost home ownership and mid-market rent which will include the homes delivered through the National Housing Trust.
The three year AHSP budget to March 2015 is currently £970 million. A further £390 million will be available in 2015/16. Over four years to 2015/16, planned investment in affordable housing will therefore exceed £1.35 billion. These resources are mainly allocated to registered social landlords (housing associations and co-operatives) and Local Authorities. An agreed allocation formula is applied to the resources available that takes into account factors such as deprivation and homelessness.
Private Rented Sector (PRS)
The changing tenant dynamics of the sector has seen a growing demand for private rented housing from a range of different household types. This includes those that will continue to look for flexibility from the PRS and those that are now looking to settle in the sector longer term. That is why the Scottish Government set up an independent review of the PRS tenancy regime to examine the suitability and effectiveness of the current tenancy arrangements. The Review Group is due to make its recommendations to Ministers in 2014.
Scotland's Sustainable Housing Strategy
Scotland's Sustainable Housing Strategy was published in June 2013. It sets out a route-map to 2030 for warm, high quality, affordable, low carbon homes and aims to ensure that the refurbishment and house-building sectors contribute to, and benefit from, Scotland's low carbon economy. We are investing £74 million in 2013/14 through our Home Energy Efficiency Programmes for Scotland and will use our funding to maximise investment from energy companies through the Energy Company Obligation to improve the energy efficiency of our existing homes and tackle fuel poverty.
In addition, we will be introducing the Energy Efficiency Standard for Social Housing in 2014 which will improve the quality of social housing and we have established a working group to consider regulating energy efficiency in private sector housing.
The Scottish Government is committed to tackling and preventing homelessness and recognises the damaging impact the experience can have on children's lives. We have the most progressive legislation on homelessness not only in the UK, but across the world with our achievement of the 2012 target that all unintentionally homeless households are entitled to settled accommodation.
We have seen progress in recent years in reducing the number of children in temporary accommodation and particularly in bed and breakfast accommodation. These falls are alongside a drop in recorded homelessness in Scotland more broadly as a result of the adoption of housing options approaches to homelessness prevention by Local Authorities. This approach focuses on addressing the particular circumstances and needs of individuals to produce more sustainable housing outcomes
Five regional Local Authority led Housing Options "Hubs", involving all 32 Local Authorities have been established. The hubs allow partners to focus on homelessness prevention through a combination of sharing best practice, joint training and commissioning joint research. The hubs have continued to be funded at £150,000 per year with a commitment to 2014/15.
Additionally, from June 2013, Local Authorities in Scotland have a legal duty to provide housing support to those households assessed as unintentionally homeless and who they have reason to believe may require it, including homeless households with children.
3.2 Places - Children from low income households grow up in places that are socially sustainable
Scotland's communities should be vibrant and inclusive - a place where everyone feels they belong and can achieve their potential. Evidence suggests that there are high numbers of people in disadvantaged areas who are unable to work through ill-health or disability, alongside those who are either underemployed or employed in poor quality employment which does not offer prospects of progression. The economic downturn clearly presents greater risks for disadvantaged groups.
It is important that, whilst understanding where additional support needs exist, our collective focus is not on the deficits of an area but rather the assets that communities have. To support communities to be sustainable, we must identify the assets that exist - economic, physical and social - and use these assets to deliver sustainable, positive change. An assets based approach will also help to overcome stigmatisation and will support communities to have a positive identity in the future.
In simple terms we should ask "what makes this place good and where do the opportunities lie?" and "what expertise and skills do local people have?" instead of labelling particular areas and people as "a problem".
People and Communities Fund
Community led regeneration is about local people identifying for themselves the issues and opportunities in their areas and deciding what to do about them. The Scottish Government supports communities to be responsible for delivering the action that will make the difference in their local areas and to become more resilient.
The People and Communities Fund is worth £7.9 million per annum over 2012-2015 (£8.9 million in 2015/16). It has several different strands representing over £32 million over four years to support an assets based approach to community led regeneration. Funding can be used for projects that support employability or preventative action, where this can be clearly linked to the outcomes identified in the Regeneration Strategy. Examples include training/up-skilling, volunteering and employability advice, to funding for a community facility and diversionary plus activities for young people.
Successful Public Service Reform must be led and driven through local partnership and collaboration. There is good evidence that improved outcomes for people, prevention of harm and better use of resources can be achieved when local services are planned and delivered through effective place-based partnership and integrated service provision; bringing the capacities and resources of public, third and independent sector partners together with communities to deliver shared outcomes that meet local people's needs and aspirations.
The Scottish Government and COSLA are clear that community planning is at the core of Public Service Reform. We need CPPs to provide the shared leadership which drives the pace of partnership working, focuses sharply on prevention, and secures continuous improvement in service delivery. Our joint Statement of Ambition (published in March 2012) made that clear.
- Ministers and Local Authority Leaders signed off new Single Outcome Agreements (SOA) in Summer 2013. These provide a clear "plan for place" through which CPPs mobilise local assets and resources to deliver meaningful progress, with a particular focus on prevention and reducing inequalities, especially around six policy priorities19, where the aim is to achieve transformational, not incremental, performance improvement. Improving the early years in Scotland is key to enabling some of Scotland's most entrenched problems such as poverty, poor health, poor attainment and anti-social behaviour and CPPs are crucial to this. SOAs are expected to reflect this.
- Each SOA is accompanied by an agreed Development Plan which sets out what the CPP is going to do to improve and make progress against the Statement of Ambition.
- CPPs and community planning partners need to be clear about total collective resources available, and ensure resources are deployed towards priority outcomes jointly agreed in SOAs. We expect early progress on this. The Agreement on Joint Working on Community Planning and Resourcing, co-signed by Scottish Ministers, COSLA and the Chair of the National Community Planning Group and published alongside the draft Scottish Government Budget in September 2013, makes these expectations clear.
- The forthcoming Community Empowerment (Scotland) Bill, to be introduced to Parliament later in 2014, will place new duties on CPPs and individual partners to work together to improve outcomes.
Community Empowerment (Scotland) Bill
This Bill will place new statutory duties on public sector organisations and CPPs to improve outcomes for local communities. We expect CPPs to ensure that total resources are effectively deployed and aligned between partners to achieve outcomes set out in the agreed SOA, as a recently published Agreement on Joint Working signed by the Scottish Government, COSLA and the Chair of the National Community Planning Group makes clear. New scrutiny arrangements introduced by the Accounts Commission and Auditor General will provide assurance for the performance of CPPs and help them to deliver better outcomes. Three CPP audits have already been completed and a further five are now being undertaken.
The Bill will include:
- a new way for communities to take on public sector land and buildings
- opportunities for communities to be more involved in shaping and delivering better outcomes locally
- greater transparency in the management and disposal of the Common Good
- improved powers for Local Authorities to recover the costs of dealing with dangerous and defective buildings
- measures to streamline and extend the rural community right to buy
- new duties to strengthen Community Planning, so that public sector agencies work as one to deliver better outcomes for communities
- updated and simplified legislation on allotments
- new powers for Local Authorities to create local business rate relief schemes
Further information is available at: http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/Bills/576.aspx
We know that some children are at greater risk of becoming offenders and victims because of the circumstances into which they are born. These risks can be reduced by effective intervention, equipping parents and young people to make good choices and offering positive alternatives to offending. These need to be alternatives which will create a sustainable, more cohesive society where everyone can take advantage of the opportunities available and enjoy a better quality of life.
On 23 October 2013, the Cabinet Secretary for Justice announced details of the latest three year funding phase of the CashBack for Communities Programme. This takes the ill-gotten gains of crime, recovered through the Proceeds of Crime Act and invests them into community programmes, facilities and activities largely, but not exclusively, for young people at risk of turning to crime and anti-social behaviour as a way of life.
Communities across Scotland are set to benefit from a further investment of £24 million through to 2017. Since 2008 the CashBack for Communities Programme has invested or committed more than £74 million recovered from the proceeds of crime to fund more than 1.1 million activities and opportunities for young people.
3.3 Places - Children from low income households grow up in places that are physically sustainable
Regeneration of Scotland's most disadvantaged areas and strengthening of local communities are key priorities for the Scottish Government. Our commitment to ensuring equality of opportunity and support for the places and people that need it underpins our approach to regeneration. There have been some notable successes in supporting and transforming our communities for the better. However, too many of Scotland's people still live in communities suffering the effects of deprivation and disadvantage. We intend to focus on reforming the way in which mainstream resources are used to support vulnerable communities as well as a stronger focus on community led regeneration and targeted funding to realise the economic potential of Scotland's communities.
Achieving a Sustainable Future is key in looking at how we can regenerate some of our most disadvantaged areas.
The Capital Investment Fund supports physical development and focuses on key interventions. It gives flexibility and support to areas that need it most and to the organisations that can best deliver results.
The fund includes:
The Scottish Partnership for Regeneration in Urban Centres Fund which helps fund regeneration and energy efficiency projects within targeted areas of Scotland. The Scottish Government, using European Regional Development Funds, has contributed £50 million to establish the fund which opened in 2011. Funds will be available to invest in further regeneration projects over a 10 year period.
A new Regeneration Capital Grant Fund will provide funding on a competitive basis from 2014/15. This has been developed in partnership with COSLA and Local Authorities and will provide financial support from 2014/15 to projects that will help to deliver large-scale improvements to deprived areas. It will focus on projects that engage and involve local communities and those that can demonstrate the ability to deliver sustainable regeneration outcomes.
3.4 Places - Children in low income households live in places that are economically sustainable
In order to ensure that all of Scotland benefits, the Government Economic Strategy has a vital role in ensuring shared and sustainable economic growth that provides the most disadvantaged areas and people in society with the opportunity to prosper. We must maximise the potential of Scotland's people, places and assets. As well as being a desirable outcome and characteristic of growth, equity - social, regional, and inter‑generational - is also a key driver of economic growth.
The Economic Strategy reaffirms the Scottish Government's commitment to delivering faster sustainable economic growth with opportunities for all to flourish. It sets out how we will make full use of the economic levers currently devolved to the Scottish Parliament, with the aim of improving Scotland's rate of sustainable economic growth. By building a more dynamic and faster growing economy we will increase prosperity, be better placed to tackle Scotland's health and social challenges, and establish a fairer and more equal society. Sustainability is vital if we are to nurture our environment and ensure that future generations can enjoy a better quality of life.
The Scottish Government's Skills Strategy focuses efforts on improving the capacity of individuals to move into better quality work, and on measures to boost the supply of jobs and growth in particular geographical areas.
The actions taken on skills by the Scottish Government, local government and other partners across the country to manage the impacts of recession have been decisive, bringing not only help and support through the recovery period but also serving to develop the expertise necessary to respond to the opportunities that will emerge in post-recession Scotland and deliver long term benefits to the economy. Internationalisation, new technologies and the transition to a low carbon economy bring particular opportunities. Scotland's ability to capitalise on these must not be constrained by a lack of individuals with the right skills. This refreshed Skills Strategy places a renewed focus on the skills needed to accelerate recovery and to deliver sustainable economic growth with opportunities for all of Scotland to flourish over the long term.
As testified by feedback from employers and unemployed people alike, having experience of the workplace is amongst the most critical factors in getting a job. More than ever during these difficult economic times, volunteering remains one of the best and easiest ways that such invaluable experience can be obtained.
The Scottish Government provides the 32 third sector interfaces across Scotland and their representative national organisation (Voluntary Action Scotland) with over £8.25 million for the period 1 April 2013 to 31 March 2014 to deliver four key functions, one of which is volunteering development. This funding amount will be maintained in the 2014/15 year.
In addition, support of £0.8 million is being provided to Volunteer Scotland for 2013/14 and 2014/15 to develop, promote and enhance volunteering across Scotland.
The Saltire Awards, the Scottish Government's new youth volunteering award for 12-25 year olds were launched across Scotland on 1 April 2012. The new awards aim to strengthen the links between volunteering and schools and increase the opportunities for young people to take part in volunteering within their local community.
Furthermore, from 1 April 2013 until 31 March 2015, the Voluntary Action Fund, on behalf of the Scottish Government, will deliver the Volunteering Support Fund (£2.2 million) to local community grass-roots organisations to support and promote volunteering among a variety of groups, including young people.
Widening Access to Higher Education and the Professions
We know that those with higher education qualifications can obtain higher level and more rewarding employment than those without. With this in mind we continue to focus on widening access and have improved the number of entrants to higher education from the most deprived areas with participation amongst those aged 16-30 improving from 34.9% in 2006/07 to 39.7% in 2011/12 (Participation Rates for Entrants to Scottish Higher Education).
The Post-16 Education Act introduces statutory Widening Access Agreements to drive improvements. On 18 December 2012, we announced £10 million support for 2,089 additional funded places at universities in 2013/14. 727 places are for widening access; 1020 are for students coming from college; 342 places are for sectors likely to have the greatest economic impact. A further 3,257 places will be allocated for 2014/15, including 730 places for widening access, 1031 places for students articulating from college and the remainder for strategic priorities.
For students, our minimum income guarantee of £7,250 per year (£7,500 from 2014/15) for students from the poorest backgrounds is the highest in the UK for those living at home and second highest (Wales is £7,736) for those living away from home in the UK.
In Academic Year 2010/11, the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) provided additional strategic funding to a group of institutions to help improve access to the high demand professions, including law and medicine. The funding, approximately £60,000 per institution for three years, was to deliver a programme of targeted outreach in those schools with low progression to higher education. Outreach work considered how attainment affected the admissions process in these subjects. The SFC has extended the funding for the programme to July 2016.
The Commission for Developing Scotland's Young Workforce was set up in 2012, by the Cabinet Secretary for Education, Mike Russell, and is led by Sir Ian Wood. The Commission's main purpose is to review how Scotland's young people can be better supported to gain the skills they need for sustainable employment. In particular, they are looking at ways to increase parity of esteem, quality of, and access to, vocational education. The Commission published an Interim Report in September and the Commission will also make further recommendations on college education and equality issues in its final report which it plans to publish in the Spring of 2014.
Scotland's Digital Future: A Strategy for Scotland sets out the Scottish Government's commitment to ensure that Scotland is at the forefront of the digital economy and that this opportunity is available to everyone. Encouraging greater digital participation and use of the internet in both rural and urban areas has the capacity not only to open up new economic opportunities, but to achieve richer, more rewarding lives, from the greater consumer choice and keener pricing that can be obtained for purchasing, to the ability to make and maintain social connections.
The Scottish Government has a leadership role in bringing people together, promoting best practice and developing effective and sustainable networks to increase digital inclusion, but we cannot do this alone. Partnerships are essential and we are working with a range of partners who are best placed to engage with the people we are trying to reach. Joint working arrangements with the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO), the Scottish Libraries and Information Council, Local Authorities and housing associations have been established to explore innovative ways to enable everyone to build their confidence and capability to use the internet as an everyday, anytime and anywhere technology to enrich their lives.
Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband project
Bringing superfast broadband to Scotland is one of the most ambitious infrastructure projects in the whole of Europe. The Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband project is a key step in the Scottish Government's aim for Scotland to become a world class digital nation by 2020.
Commercial deployment plans cover certain areas in the country but there are many areas where commercial infrastructure providers have chosen not to develop. The Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband Project aims to provide fibre broadband infrastructure to those areas. Combined with the current commercial roll-out plans, around 95% of premises in Scotland should have fibre broadband by the end of 2017 and 85% by the end of 2015. The project has the support of Scotland's 32 Local Authorities who are jointly contributing over £90 million to deliver this project.
Community Broadband Scotland
Community Broadband Scotland (CBS) supports the "hardest to reach" communities. The Community Broadband Start-Up Fund is demand led by applications from communities across Scotland and subject to availability of funds. It will remain open until 30 November 2014. It is targeted at those communities who are least likely to benefit from a next generation broadband solution under the current Superfast Programme. With an initial investment of £5 million, CBS will empower and enable communities to find innovative, sustainable solutions to access high speed and superfast broadband using a mix of technologies that would otherwise not be available to these areas.
Email: Welfare Division