Citizens' Assembly of Scotland - Doing Politics Differently report: Scottish Government response
Our response to the report of the Citizens' Assembly of Scotland report 'Doing Politics Differently'.
8. Mixed group
"a range of other recommendations such as education and vocational opportunities, equal internet access and a review of the criminal justice system"
'Doing Politics Differently'
Summary of recommendations
Recommendations 55 – 60 are themed as 'Mixed group'. Proposals in this group include those concerning: internet connectivity; the criminal justice system; and access to lifelong education.
The recommendations in this section show the range of issues that were of concern to the Assembly in considering the broad questions they had been asked to consider. The government's programme is similarly wide ranging in its nature, and there are policy initiatives underway in most of the areas identified by the Assembly.
On digital connectivity (recommendation 55) the government remains committed to providing support to ensure that everyone can access superfast broadband services by the end of 2021. By the end of this Parliament, Connecting Scotland will have supported up to 300,000 households to get online, backed by £200 million of investment, through the provision of devices, data and digital skills. In addition, over the course of this Parliament, the Scottish Government will provide a digital device for every school-aged child – helping an estimated 700,000 children by 2026.
On the state pension age and enforcement by employers (recommendation 57) this is an area fully reserved to the UK Government. The Scottish Government is opposed to further increases in the state pension age.
On the recommendations of the Social Renewal Advisory Board (recommendation 58), the government published its initial response in March, welcoming the Board's report, and providing a brief overview of progress. 69 of the 77 recommendations are now being progressed either in part or in full, including the transformational recommendations on exploring a Minimum Income Guarantee and increasing the Scottish Child Payment. The government will continue to build on the Calls to Action through the COVID Recovery Strategy, sharpen the focus on reducing poverty and disadvantage and embed a human-rights approach.
On a full review of the justice system to improve outcomes for communities, offenders and victims (recommendation 59), the government plans targeted reforms to address specific issues, building on the solid foundations of Scotland's justice system. Planned measures include:
- a new National Community Justice Strategy with an emphasis on early intervention and a further shift away from the use of custody
- a new funding programme to provide practical and emotional support to victims, survivors and witnesses of crime
- consideration of the three verdict system, the rule on corroboration and the role of Scotland's law officers
On educational opportunities for people at all stages of life and a voluntary national service scheme (recommendation 60), the government supports a number of programmes that provide learning opportunities from school onwards, including:
- £1 billion across this Parliament for the Scottish Attainment Challenge
- maintain the policy of no tuition fees for Scottish students and substantial reforms to student support
- Young Person's Guarantee – giving every young person who wants it the opportunity of a job, place in education or training, or formal volunteering
- a Green Jobs Workforce Academy for those looking to transition into green jobs
- support for adult upskilling and reskilling through the Flexible Workforce Development Fund and Individual Training Accounts
- assessing how to simplify and strengthen the lifelong learning offer and ensure every adult who needs access to funding to support skills development throughout their lives has it
The remaining recommendation of the Assembly (recommendation 56) is that the Scottish Government and Parliament should
legislate upon clear and simple standards and ways of working (for example, IT and public information systems) to improve collaboration, accessibility and communication locally and nationally, which achieves cost efficiencies, and streamlines services and working practices across both private and public organisations to ensure they are understood by all and run for the benefit of citizens.
This recommendation returns to a common theme across the report: accessible and comprehensible information available to citizens to allow them both to participate in the affairs of the country and to hold to account organisations, public and private, for their activities. The government always aims to provide information in a form that can be accessed and used by citizens. This recommendation is a reminder that those attempts are not always successful, and there is always more to be done to encourage and support fully participative, active citizens in a healthy and functioning democracy.
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