Programme for Government 2018 to 2019

Sets out our plans for the next year, including the Bills that will be introduced to the Scottish Parliament.

This document is part of a collection

Executive Summary

This Programme for Government for 2018-19 sets out the Scottish Government’s plan of action over the coming year.

Building a Globally Competitive, Sustainable and Inclusive Economy

A strong economy with growing, competitive and innovative businesses is essential to supporting jobs, incomes and our quality of life. Our economy must also be environmentally sustainable and inclusive – involving and providing benefit and opportunity for all of our people and communities. In turn, a strong competitive economy depends on a skilled, healthy and flexible workforce, and our rich ecological capital and natural environment are powerful assets that can help create economic value for the country as a whole.

We will continue to deliver on the ambitious package of measures to promote digitally-enabled and low carbon growth that we set out last year. These measures are delivering enhanced physical and digital infrastructure, core skills and increased innovation and use of technologies in key industries such as advanced manufacturing, FinTech and life sciences. These are the measures we must focus on to ensure our economy is ready for the challenges and opportunities of the future.

The time is right to lay down ambitious roadmaps for the future of the Scottish economy and workforce.

This Programme for Government commits to a mission to raise Scotland’s infrastructure spending to internationally competitive levels – it also underlines our progress on revolutionising our digital infrastructure and helps our people and businesses prepare for the work of the future.

We will make it our mission to steadily increase annual infrastructure investment so it is £1.5 billion per year higher at the end of the next Parliament than in 2019-20. This bold mission will increase Scottish Government capital investment by an additional 1% of current Scottish GDP and to achieve it we will need to continue to innovate in our models for investment and work across the public sector. On current estimates that would mean around £7 billion of extra infrastructure investment by the end of the next Parliament. That is investment that will deliver jobs and allow our communities to flourish and businesses to grow and export more. It will be a step change in infrastructure investment that will deliver a long-term boost to Scotland’s economy. It will be direct investment in our housing, schools, hospitals, transport and digital infrastructure and an investment that will be enjoyed by future generations.

This mission is part of our transformation of our economic foundations. Another key part of that is the Scottish National Investment Bank. In the coming year we will introduce the legislation that will support the establishment and capitalisation of the Bank. In addition to the planned investment in the next two years as a precursor to the Bank, our aim is for the Bank to be investing in our businesses and communities from 2020, subject to regulatory and legislative approval. Backed by our commitment of at least £2 billion investment in its first 10 years, this will pave the way for a step change in innovative and inclusive growth. Ahead of that we will continue to invest in the Building Scotland Fund which will provide support for housing, modern industrial and commercial premises and business led Research and Development, together with continuing to provide micro finance, debt and equity finance for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises ( SMEs) under the Scottish Growth Scheme.

And we are rolling out investment in digital infrastructure to every corner of Scotland. This year we will award the £600 million contracts to deliver the transformational opportunities of superfast broadband to every home and business in Scotland. We will reap the full benefit of this investment by ensuring that digital innovation is at the heart of our economy. This is why we are promoting areas of digital technologies that are important for the consumers and businesses of Scotland, and that will improve lives.

Our digital infrastructure needs to be matched by, and will become increasingly important to, our transport network. We will continue to invest more than £1 billion every year in public transport and deliver our programme of investment in all forms of transportation. In particular, we will promote the shift to more active travel for the benefit of our environment and our health, and support innovation in the transport sector. We will increasingly focus our investment on low carbon solutions, in pursuit of the ambition we set out last year to phase out the need for new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2032. We will go further this year, with commitments to:

  • create at least 20 electric towns across Scotland by 2025
  • add 1500 new charge points in homes, businesses and communities including 150 new public charge points
  • make £20 million available to enable more people and businesses to make the switch to electric vehicles
  • add more than 500 new ultra low emission vehicles to public sector fleets
  • add over 100 green buses to the fleet through the £1.7 million Green Bus Fund

We will also harness innovation within our transport systems, through £2 million support for the development of ‘Mobility as a Service’ which aims to make smart and seamless public and shared transport options as desirable as owning our own car.

We will also continue to drive forward work that will make Scotland the most competitive place to invest and do business. This will include:

  • introducing a Non-Domestic Rates Bill to further implement recommendations of the Barclay Review
  • our enterprise and skills agencies stepping up their support to help businesses navigate Brexit
  • Procurement Innovation Partnerships working collaboratively with public bodies to procure new goods and services to solve social challenges, creating opportunities for SMEs including micro-businesses

We will also take action to ensure that the population has the skills that we need to make the most of current and future economic opportunities. We will listen to the views of the business-led Enterprise and Skills Strategic Board and work with others from industry including the trade unions to set out our strategic approach in early 2019 to deliver a skilled and productive workforce for the short, medium and long term.

We know that this is not simply the role of government and our agencies. Instead we must continue to reinforce co-operation and harness the ingenuity of our businesses, trade unions and workforce. Following discussions with key stakeholders we will establish a national retraining partnership, working with trade unions and employer bodies. It will have the aim of helping workers and businesses prepare for future changes in their markets by enabling the workforce to upskill and retrain where necessary.

All of this is underpinned by our deep commitment to fair work. We will add criteria on fair work practices including the Living Wage, being transparent on gender-equal pay and the exclusion of exploitative zero-hours contracts to business support grants through Regional Selective Assistance and other large Scottish Enterprise job-related grants – starting with grants offered in 2019-20.

Scotland’s labour market is performing well for many people. We have seen record employment levels and delivered our targets to reduce youth unemployment but we know that many people continue to face real challenges to move into work. We will invest an additional £5 million over the next three years to support around 2,000 women to return to work.

To reach our full potential as a nation we need every part of Scotland to have strong economic growth. We are investing over £1 billion in City Region Deals across Scotland and in the coming year will introduce a Bill to establish a new enterprise agency for the South of Scotland.

People are key to the economic and social wellbeing of Scotland’s rural and island communities. We will do more to realise the potential of the rural economy and key sectors such as food and drink. We will ensure that, in the face of Brexit and a difficult year ahead, farm and rural businesses receive their current payment entitlements. We will develop a new approach to fisheries management and help coastal communities keep fishing harbours operational. And we will plant more trees and make more of our forestry resources.

To be more productive and innovative we know that our economy must export more. We must be ambitious about Scotland’s potential to grow our overseas trade and will work to boost the value and range of Scottish products, services and businesses in overseas markets. We will work with industry on how we can achieve our ambition and, with the support of the Enterprise and Skills Strategic Board, set out by spring 2019 a range of detailed actions in our export plan – ‘A Trading Nation’ – on how we will identify new opportunities. This work will be supported by over £20 million investment in the next three years. As part of that work we will:

  • invest £2 million in a First Minister’s export challenge to intensively support 50 businesses per year to ramp up overseas activity and create 100 new business to business peer mentorships per year for new exporters
  • expand the network of in-market specialists to identify untapped potential in overseas markets and support Scotland’s exporting interests
  • increase Export Finance support for Scottish companies looking to enter new markets

Even without the additional challenges of Brexit we know that, to grow our economy, we also need to grow our population and that’s why we will welcome people to Scotland who want to be part of our success. We want to ensure that we have enough healthcare professionals caring for us in the NHS, that we have the skills needed to remain competitive and innovative, that we have the workers needed for a thriving rural economy and that our universities are able to attract and retain talent from around the world.

We will continue to make the case that decisions on Scotland’s population should be made in Scotland rather than at Westminster and that powers on migration should rest with the Scottish Parliament. With the powers we currently have, we will focus on:

  • attracting and keeping people in Scotland, for example by making provision for an advice and support service including on the new settled status scheme and meeting the settled status fees for EU citizens working in our devolved public services
  • challenging misconceptions on immigration in Scotland and building on the success of the ‘We are Scotland’ social media campaign

The sustainability of our growth is not just contingent on how we treat our people, it is also about how we protect and nurture our environment. Our natural resources and biodiversity must be protected and we cannot allow Brexit to undermine the progress that we have made both in Scotland and across the EU.

Scotland’s greenhouse gas emissions have almost halved since 1990 and our current Climate Change Bill is the next step in our low carbon transition. We will build on our world-leading work on climate change mitigation with a new five-year Climate Change Adaptation Programme to ensure our communities, economy and natural environment are resilient to the changing climate.

We will pursue our goal of an energy system in Scotland that is globally competitive and delivers secure, affordable and clean energy to all. We will also work to ensure that businesses reap the onshore benefits of offshore generation. Later this year we will consult on our preferred model for a publicly-owned not-for-profit energy company, to support our efforts to tackle fuel poverty.

While we have made steady progress on recycling, there is more to be done. We have asked people for views on how a deposit return scheme for drinks containers should work. We will use the views shared with us to help design an effective system that will work well for everyone in Scotland. This year we will go further to tackle our throwaway culture. We will look beyond drinks containers and consult on what additional measures should be considered to improve the use and reuse of other materials. And as part of our efforts to reduce the burden of plastics on our seas we will ban the manufacture and sale of plastic-stemmed cotton buds.

A healthy clean environment is vital for our wellbeing and enjoying the outdoors supports our good physical and mental health. Our Biodiversity Challenge Fund, of up to £2 million, will support projects across Scotland focused on creating and improving habitats for key species and, where appropriate, encourage increased access to nature.

A Healthy and Active Nation

To be a more successful country we need to see an overall improvement in our population health, and we need to close the gap between the health of our wealthiest communities and the health of our poorest.

We will begin a radical reform of the way we respond to and treat mental ill-health. We will take a public health approach focused on prevention. We will improve clinical services so that they are more responsive to children, young people and adults and build new networks of support easily accessible from schools, colleges, universities, communities and workplaces to support good health and wellbeing. This will be supported by an additional £250 million investment over five years.

Too many children and young people are waiting too long for, or being rejected by, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services ( CAMHS). As a result we need to radically change what we do, building on the principles of early intervention and of support being available as close to young people and their families as possible.

The proposals set out in this Programme for Government will ensure that:

  • parents will have a much clearer understanding of the kind of help that is available, and where and how to access it
  • children and young people will have a much wider range of help available to them
  • schools will be better supported to deal with wellbeing concerns, and will be able to direct children to counselling services

To make sure that children and young people have the support they need at the earliest possible stage we will take a range of actions including:

  • investing in additional school nursing and counselling services. This will create around 350 counsellors in school education across Scotland and ensure that every secondary school has counselling services
  • recruiting an additional 250 school nurses by 2022. This will help provide a response to mild and moderate emotional and mental health difficulties experienced by young people in the form of local help available immediately
  • enhancing support and professional learning materials for teachers on good mental health, including ensuring that, by the end of academic year 2019-20, every local authority will be offered training for teachers in mental health first aid, using a ‘train the trainer’ model to enable dissemination to all schools
  • providing more than 80 additional counsellors in Further and Higher Education over the next four years
  • putting in place systems to fast-track those with serious mental illness to specialist treatment
  • developing services for community mental wellbeing for 5-24 year olds and their parents to provide direct and immediate access to counselling sessions, self-care advice, family support, peer-to-peer support and group work with links to other care settings

These, and other measures set out in this Programme for Government, will provide support that is more appropriate and provided more quickly; preventing, where possible, issues reaching levels that require specialist CAMHS support. This will also help reduce demand on specialist services and allow those young people and families who do need specialist services to receive them more quickly.

We will also substantially expand the range of perinatal support available to women. Almost 20% of all women will experience mental ill-health during their pregnancy and we want to transform the service that they receive – by providing more counselling support for less acute issues and better specialist support for moderate to acute problems.

We will also expand other services for adults and in particular:

  • trial improvements to the NHS 24 Breathing Space service by introducing web-chat with an NHS 24 adviser
  • help those with mild to moderate depression through more widespread online access to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy – this would help people to combine improving their mental health with working and caring
  • improve access to psychological assessment and therapies in rural areas through the use of technology such as video-conferencing

More generally we are investing record amounts in our health service. With our commitment to increase health funding by at least £2 billion over the lifetime of this Parliament we will also:

  • open the Major Trauma Centres in Aberdeen in October and Dundee in November, with centres in Glasgow and Edinburgh to follow
  • begin construction on the Golden Jubilee expansion in the West of Scotland in early 2019 and the North of Scotland Elective Care Centre at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness by mid 2019
  • publish a plan, later this month, to substantially and sustainably improve waiting times performance in the face of rising demand for services
  • support improvements to person-centred visiting in our NHS – flexible visiting will be in place across NHS Scotland by 2020
  • establish Public Health Scotland to help drive improvements in population health
  • intensify work to deliver our ambition to halve childhood obesity by 2030
  • take forward work to be a more active nation including supporting the walking football programme and increasing support to Community Sports Hubs within our 5% most deprived communities
  • develop and implement a redesigned minor ailment and common conditions service which will be available to all in the coming year

We recognise that our workforce is the greatest asset of our NHS. We have awarded 147,000 NHS staff earning under £80,000 a minimum pay rise of 9% over the next three years and we will proceed with the implementation of the new contract for GPs, freeing up GP time to see those with the most complex needs. We have also awarded salaried NHS doctors and dentists earning under £80,000 a pay rise of up to 3% this year.

Progress is being made both locally and nationally towards a new and sustainable future for adult social care. We will continue to embed the recently established rights for Scotland’s 790,000 unpaid carers, give people greater choice and control over their social care and implement Frank’s Law, which will see people of all age groups who need it be eligible for free personal care by April 2019. We will also explore the potential for a new national scheme to provide extra financial support to people with the highest social care needs.

The Best Place to Grow Up and Learn

In the Year of Young People, we have the opportunity to underline our commitment to future generations. We have the chance to fundamentally change the way in which we deal with the rights of young people. That is why this Programme for Government commits us to incorporating the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into domestic law. We will need to work with partners across public services and wider civic society to ensure that we do so in a way that promotes those rights most effectively, but now is the time to commit to that work.

Perhaps the most important part of serving our young people is our commitment to giving every child the best start in life with free, quality education that inspires and enables everyone to reach their potential. We have made progress but it is this Government’s defining mission to close the attainment gap and raise the bar.

That starts from day one with every new baby receiving a baby box and continues into early years and beyond. We will take forward our work to double entitlement to funded early learning and childcare for eligible two year olds and for all three and four year olds to 1140 hours from August 2020. In April we reached a landmark deal with local government on a multi-year funding package worth over £1 billion, critical to ensuring the delivery of the expanded offer to children and their families.

The attainment gap is closing, but there is more to do. This financial year we have provided £179 million to local authorities and schools to help in closing the attainment gap through the Attainment Scotland Fund.

We are working with local government to deliver a school and teacher led education system. We will work with partners to deliver new national guidelines for local authorities and a Headteachers’ Charter to put headteachers in control of important decisions that are fundamental to the running of their school, such as curriculum, staffing and budgets.

We will continue to support teacher recruitment through new routes into the profession, which have already resulted in around 280 additional student teachers.

We have significantly invested in further and higher education with real terms increases in funding supporting 116,000 full-time equivalent college places in this financial year.

Since 2007 we have provided free tuition to over half a million students in full-time higher education. We will continue to drive forward recommendations of the Commission on Widening Access to meet our commitment to equal access to university by 2030.

We support the central premise of the independent Review of Student Support of creating a system around the key values of fairness, parity and clarity. To take forward the recommendations of the review we will:

  • invest £5.2 million in this financial year to increase bursaries for full time care experienced further and higher education students to £8,100 a year – equivalent to the Living Wage
  • invest £16 million in the next financial year to expand and increase bursaries for students from the lowest income families
  • raise the repayment threshold for student loans to £25,000 from April 2021 and from this year lower the maximum repayment threshold for student loans from 35 to 30 years

Preventing and mitigating adverse childhood experiences is a moral imperative. It improves our wellbeing as children – and as adults – and gives the best chance for those who have suffered adversity to go on to live their lives to the full. Our approach is rooted in the Getting it Right for Every Child principles. Tackling adverse childhood experiences ( ACEs) requires our public services to work collaboratively, and with communities, across early years, education, health, justice, social work and more. We are working in partnership with the Scottish ACE Hub and a wide range of people and organisations to embed a focus on better preventing ACEs and supporting the resilience of children and adults to overcome early life adversity.

This year we are progressing our commitment to tackling ACEs and focusing our work around four
key areas:

  • taking intergenerational approaches to support parents, families and children – including investing in perinatal and infant mental health, expanding support to young mothers through the Family
    Nurse Partnership, and supporting parent victims and child victims of domestic abuse
  • preventing and mitigating adverse childhood experiences for children and young people – including investment in school nurses and counsellors in schools, and funding to support health and wellbeing interventions
  • developing an adversity and trauma-informed workforce – including implementing national
    trauma training, testing potential approaches for enquiring with adults about ACEs, and supporting schools to embed trauma-informed and nurture approaches in response to ACEs
  • increasing societal awareness and action across communities – including working with the Scottish Hub to raise awareness and support local areas and communities to address ACEs and enable resilience

An Empowered, Equal and Safe Scotland

Thriving communities – where there are opportunities for all to flourish – sit at the heart of our purpose and what it means to live well in Scotland. The success and the wellbeing of our communities, is rooted in the strength of our relationship and partnerships with local government as well as drawing on the capacities, expertise and commitment of those people and organisations delivering critical services across the public, private and third sector.

Scotland offers a fantastic place to live, with vibrant cities, stunning scenery and diverse communities enjoying high standards of living. However, despite some improvements, too many of our communities are still blighted by low income, poor or unaffordable housing and long-term ill-health. Crime may be at historic lows but the nature of crime and how we police it is changing. We must also work to continually improve the experiences of victims and witnesses within the criminal justice system.

We are taking further steps to tackle child poverty and meet our 2030 targets that would reduce child poverty to the lowest level in Scotland’s history. This school year saw the introduction of a new £100 minimum school clothing grant for families across Scotland. In the year ahead we will:

  • begin work on a £12 million intensive parental employment support programme
  • invest in innovative approaches to preventing and reducing child poverty, as a start to our £7.5 million Innovation Fund – a partnership with the Hunter Foundation
  • step up our work to eradicate holiday hunger, providing an additional £2 million of funding to tackle food insecurity among children

Our work to expand early learning and childcare, support people to get back to work and action to lift the public sector pay cap will directly improve household budgets. Poverty shows itself in many forms and this year we will go further than ever before to boost household incomes.

We will work to promote awareness and encourage take up of the Council Tax Reduction Scheme – we have invested £1.4 billion in this scheme since 2013 and want to do more to ensure no one eligible loses out.

We will also increase, by 7,500 by April 2019, the number of workers receiving a pay increase to the Living Wage as a result of employer accreditation. This is part of our longer term target to increase by 25,000 the number of Living Wage recipients.

This year sees the opening of our new social security agency, Social Security Scotland, marking a fundamental shift in the delivery of social security as a human right underpinned by the values of dignity, fairness and respect. We will publish our Social Security Charter – developed with those who have experience of the system – setting out people’s rights and how the new approach of our Scottish system will support them.

Social Security Scotland is making its first payments to people this month, through the Carer’s Allowance Supplement. This increases the Carer’s Allowance by 13% and is an investment of more than £30 million a year to support carers in Scotland. In 2019 we will make the first payments under our £300 per year Young Carer Grant.

We want to accelerate the help we can give to new families so that every child has the best start in life. Therefore we will start making payments of our Best Start Grant by this Christmas – more than six months early. This will put more money into the pockets of families on lower incomes – by providing £600 on the birth of a first child and £300 on the birth of any later children, more than the current UK Government arrangements. By paying families on lower incomes more money more quickly we will support thousands of children across Scotland. This is the first step in our delivery of the Best Start Grant which will also – by summer 2019 – see families get a further £250 for each of their children at key points in their early years such as starting nursery and school.

In the coming year we will also provide financial support to people on lower incomes who have lost loved ones and are struggling with funeral costs through Funeral Expense Assistance.

We will publish an Older People’s Framework by March 2019. This will set out how we will deliver improved equality outcomes for older people and, equally importantly, how we maximise the contribution of our older people in our communities and economy.

The foundations of our communities are our homes and over the lifetime of this Parliament we are investing more than £3 billion to deliver at least 50,000 affordable homes including 35,000 for social rent. We are investing around £750 million this year alone to keep up that momentum. We will support delivery of more wheelchair-accessible housing for disabled people. And we will implement the recommendations of our Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group to eradicate rough sleeping, transform the use of temporary accommodation and prevent homelessness.

We will also support communities and encourage developments through legislative and digital improvements to the planning system that will transform how people interact with the system as part of our work to make planning more simple and transparent. We will continue to take action to increase the safety of people living in new and existing buildings, following the Edinburgh schools report and the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

We will continue to support community land purchases through our £10 million per year Scottish Land Fund, including extending it until 2021. And we will continue to support the work of the Scottish Land Commission to shape the land reform agenda. We will explore how to promote the existing Community Right to Buy mechanisms to enable community allotments and other forms of community growing. We will also progress the Scottish Crown Estate Bill.

We will strengthen the arrangements for local democracy and decision taking. We will take forward the Local Governance Review, jointly with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities ( COSLA), which will look at how decisions are made within Scotland’s diverse communities.

Diversity is something we must cherish and we will tackle the prejudices and attitudes that fuel intolerance. A key aspect of this is developing modern laws that show there is no place for hate crime. We will consult on the legislation that is needed to reflect life in 21st-century Scotland, and we will also respond in full to the recommendations of the First Minister’s Advisory Group on Human Rights Leadership when it sets these out at the end of 2018.

And we will continue work that will enable us to bring forward legislation on gender recognition in the next legislative programme.

In justice, we will maintain our focus on prevention, early intervention and services that support rehabilitation and reduce re-offending. We will continue to reform and modernise our justice system, in particular to improve the experiences of victims of crime.

As part of this work we will:

  • reduce and, where we can, eliminate the need for victims to have to retell their story to different organisations as they look for help, working with Victim Support Scotland and others
  • widen the range of serious crimes where the victim can make a statement to the court about how the crime has affected them physically, emotionally and financially, consulting on specific details by early 2019
  • ensure victims and their families have better information and greater support ahead of prison release arrangements
  • increase the openness and transparency of the parole system, consulting on specific proposals later this year
  • establish a new support service in Spring 2019, developed and delivered with Victim Support Scotland, to give families bereaved by murder and culpable homicide dedicated and continuous support

We will also improve the experience of victims of rape and sexual assault in the criminal justice system, taking action to allow trials involving rape to start at the earliest opportunity and to minimise stress caused to victims. We will consult on improved legislation and practice for forensic medical examinations. We will also provide an additional £1.5 million to Rape Crisis Centres to help people access the support they need.

Prevention and multi-agency responses also underpin our efforts to tackle violence against women and girls. We will implement the Equally Safe strategy through a preventative approach and improve services and drive forward work to prevent and reduce all forms of gender-based violence. In the coming year this includes:

  • launching a consultation on how to improve multi-agency interventions for victims of domestic abuse who are at a high risk of harm, so that they receive better support and are kept safer
  • convening a roundtable later in 2018 on what more can be done to tackle online abuse and misogyny, and engaging with media companies on tackling harmful gender stereotypes
  • launching a major national campaign in Spring 2019 to challenge sexual harassment and sexism
  • bringing forward a Female Genital Mutilation Bill to strengthen the protection of women and girls from this form of gender based violence

In the past year we have delivered legislation that created a new offence of domestic abuse designed to reflect our modern understanding of how perpetrators use coercive controlling behaviours against their partner or ex-partner. We will consult in the autumn on further protections for those at risk of domestic abuse through new protective orders and we will expand the innovative Caledonian Programme into a further six local authority areas with £2.8 million of funding over the next two years – so that more male perpetrators of domestic abuse can receive specific rehabilitation services.

We will expand our successful approach to youth justice to include, where possible, young people up to the age of 21 and care-experienced young people up to the age of 26 and we have protected criminal justice social work funding at record levels of around £100 million per year.

In the year ahead the presumption against short sentences will be extended to 12 months, once additional safeguards for victims in the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018 are in force. We will issue revised guidance and provide additional funding for supervised and supported bail to ensure that remand is only used where necessary and appropriate.

We will continue to invest in the prison estate, including the new model for the female custodial estate. As part of our work to tackle adverse childhood experiences, we will enhance support for children affected by parental imprisonment.

We will improve the provision of health and social care services for people in prison including with improved clinical IT systems in prisons to make services safer and more efficient. And we will improve how the justice and health systems respond to people in mental distress.

In the coming year we will bring forward legislation for new drug driving limits covering 17 different drug types to improve the safety of our roads. This will mean Scotland leads the way with drug driving limits in place and a lower drink-drive limit than the rest of the UK.

We will also continue to improve our openness and transparency and consult on proposals to extend Freedom of Information legislation, for example to companies providing services on behalf of the public sector.

We will establish an Animal Welfare Commission to provide expert advice on the welfare of domesticated and wild animals in Scotland and ensure that we maintain high standards of animal welfare after Brexit. We will take steps to allow animals taken into the protection of the Scottish SPCA or local authorities to be rehomed much more quickly and efficiently than at present and introduce increased sentences for the worst types of animal cruelty, including attacks on police dogs, an initiative known as ‘Finn’s Law’.

A Creative, Open and Connected Nation

This has been another spectacular year for Scotland hosting world-class events. The celebrations continue with the opening of V&A Dundee later in September. V&A Dundee is a prime example of our support for culture as a means of regeneration and economic growth and in addition to our £38 million investment towards construction of the building, we will continue to provide £1 million a year to the museum for its first 10 years with a further £361,000 in this opening year.

We want to live in a Scotland that is innovative, inclusive, open and connected, where we are proud of our reputation and optimistic about the future.

We will publish our Culture Strategy by the end of 2018, underpinned by three ambitions: transforming through culture, empowering through culture and sustaining culture. Our actions to support that will include:

  • an International Creative Ambition Programme by May 2019
  • support for the development of film and television productions and strategic partnerships with broadcasters, making Scotland a more attractive base for screen companies and broadcasters
  • measures to ensure that all children have the opportunity to enjoy cultural opportunities no matter where they live, building on the legacy of the Year of Young People

We will protect free access to Scotland’s national museums and galleries, continuing to invest in support for key projects, and we will promote library use, via the Every Child a Library Member project, take forward the single library card pilot and investing in the Public Library Improvement Fund.

Our heritage is important and we will continue to support our historic environment and our indigenous languages, Gaelic and Scots, as well as our cultural institutions, Scotland’s festivals and our reputation as the host of world-class sporting events.

Despite the challenges of Brexit we will strive to make a positive contribution internationally and demonstrate our commitment as a good global citizen.

We have significantly enhanced Scotland’s overseas network in recent years and we will consolidate that presence over the coming year. We have just published our Contribution to International Development Report setting out our contribution to international development and humanitarian emergencies – not only our financial support but our policies across government. We will continue to build the capacity of our international development partners, providing a safeguarding framework to support and hold to account organisations that we fund to deliver international development.

We have a moral obligation to offer a place of safety to people fleeing conflict and persecution. We will continue to support the Syrian Resettlement Programme, and in the coming year, working with partners including COSLA and the Scottish Refugee Council, we will:

  • work to develop opportunities for refugees to build their skills and employment options, including through volunteering and work placements
  • support refugees to have a voice in improving their health and wellbeing through participation in local and national health forums
  • provide opportunities for refugees to produce work for and to participate in cultural, heritage and sports activities

We have embedded the UN Sustainable Development Goals in our new National Performance Framework, one of the first countries to do so. These goals will help us stretch our ambition to improve Scotland’s wellbeing and increase sustainable and inclusive economic growth and provide the backdrop to this Programme for Government.


Email: Kathryn Fergusson

Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road

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