Chapter 4 - An Empowered, Equal and Safe Scotland
Thriving communities – where there are opportunities for all to flourish – sit at the heart of our purpose for Scotland.
Achieving our ambitions for a more successful Scotland relies on stronger relationships between organisations, people and communities, drawing on our values in order to promote trust, collaboration and partnership. While significant progress has been made, we recognise not only that change takes time but that we cannot do this on our own.
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 sectors.
It is against that backdrop that we will continue to take forward work to reduce poverty and maximise household incomes. We are making substantial investments to tackle inequalities including action to reduce child poverty, prevent homelessness, provide affordable credit and extend access to free sanitary products.
We will step up our work to eradicate children’s holiday hunger, providing an additional £2 million of funding.
Social Security Scotland is making its first payments to people this month – a landmark moment in Scotland’s new approach to social security as a human right.
Our delivery of new, affordable homes continues at pace and we will extend the Scottish Land Fund until 2021.
We will take forward important new laws on hate crime by consulting on the legislation that is needed to reflect life in 21st-century Scotland. We will put in place further reforms to our justice system to strengthen victims’ rights and support, increase transparency and extend the opportunity for those affected by crime to have their voices heard. We will take specific actions to support victims of rape and sexual and domestic abuse and drive forward work to end violence against women and girls.
Tackling poverty and inequality
No child or adult should have their chances limited by poverty. We want to break the intergenerational cycles of poverty, inequality and deprivation. To make inroads we need to tackle and prevent the root causes of poverty. Our ambitious economic policy, new social security system and approach to fairer taxation are an important part of this.
Getting the key decisions right is particularly important to tackling poverty and inequality effectively. That is why we introduced the Fairer Scotland duty in April 2018. The duty is a new legal responsibility on national and local government, our NHS and other public bodies to actively consider what more can be done to reduce inequalities of outcome, caused by socio-economic disadvantage, when making strategic decisions. We will continue to monitor progress on implementing the new duty over the next year.
Every Child, Every Chance – The Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan
Our Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan, published in March 2018, sets out a range of concrete and ambitious actions to make progress on our 2030 targets that would reduce child poverty to the lowest level in Scotland’s history.
In the coming year we will take a wide range of action, including:
- reporting, by end June 2019, on progress to develop the new Income Supplement. In time this will provide vital financial support for parents on low incomes
- beginning work on a £12 million intensive parental employment support programme, to help parents on low incomes move into employment and progress their careers when already in work – the first delivery projects will be identified in 2019 and commence later that year
- investing in innovative approaches to preventing and reducing child poverty, as a start to our £7.5 million Innovation Fund in partnership with the Hunter Foundation
- investing in Children’s Neighbourhoods Scotland – a distinctive approach to empowering communities and improving outcomes for children and young people in neighbourhoods with high levels of poverty. This initiative brings together children, their community, local third sector and public sector organisations and businesses. They work together to tackle the big issues that prevent children and young people from living happily and healthily, succeeding in school and achieving what they want in life. In addition to sustaining the first Children’s neighbourhood in Bridgeton and Dalmarnock, two new neighbourhoods will be added to the programme in 2019-20. Over the next four years the programme will be further developed to extend to a total of seven sites with our investment totalling £2 million
- introducing from the current school year a new £100 national minimum school clothing grant across Scotland, with an estimated 120,000 families benefiting from this new investment
The Poverty and Inequality Commission, launched in July 2017, is to become a new public body from July 2019. This will enable the Commission to meet its duties under legislation. The appointment of the Chair of the Commission will commence later in September, with member recruitment taking place in the first half of 2019.
Maximising incomes and consumer rights
Poverty shows itself in many forms and the UK Government’s austerity programme and corresponding welfare cuts have made families in Scotland poorer. We will continue to take action where we can to mitigate the impact of welfare cuts. This financial year we expect to provide over £125 million of support for welfare mitigation and measures to help those on low incomes – that is an increase of more than £20 million on the previous year. Our work to expand early learning and childcare, support people to get back to work and lifting the public sector pay cap will also directly improve household budgets.
We will increase the number Of workers receiving The living wage by 7,500 As a result of employer Accreditation
By the end of this financial year we will have invested over £1.4 billion in the Council Tax Reduction Scheme since 2013, helping around half a million households every year to pay their Council Tax bill. In the coming year we will work to promote awareness and encourage take up of the scheme to ensure that no one eligible loses out.
We want to do more to make sure people get practical help and support to maximise their incomes and understand their rights.
So, we will begin roll out of the £3 million Financial Health Check before the end of 2018, providing low-income families and older people with help to reduce costs and maximise incomes, with a particular focus on tackling the ‘poverty premium’.
Scotland has a strong credit union sector. Over the last two years we have funded credit unions to run projects with local schools, encouraging young people to budget and save. Last year £148,000 was provided to 11 credit unions and since the programme commenced, in 2016, 47 new savings schemes have been established in schools across the country, from Dumfries and Galloway to Morayshire. We will continue to work with the sector in the vital role it plays in offering affordable lending and savings in the heart of communities and protecting people from predatory lenders and unmanageable debt. And in November we will launch an awareness-raising campaign to further strengthen the credit union movement.
We know that accessing affordable credit is a concern generally across Scotland. That is why we are investing £1 million in the Affordable Credit Fund, working with the Carnegie UK Trust to reduce the ‘poverty premium’ low-income households often have to pay. Care experienced young people, in particular, can face considerable challenges to borrow money. We want to help. Over the next year, we will work with the Care Review to develop options which will help these young people increase access to financial services, including affordable credit.
We are also working to secure fairer outcomes for consumers and increase consumer trust. In the coming year we will bring forward a Consumer Protection Bill to establish a new public body called Consumer Scotland, to maximise the impact of our new consumer powers. We are exploring whether this legislation could also ensure that government and other public bodies consider the impact of their decisions and policies on consumers.
The Consumer Protection Bill will establish a new public body called Consumer Scotland, to maximise the impact of our new consumer powers
This new work on consumer rights complements other initiatives such as our consultation with stakeholders later this year on our preferred model for a publicly-owned not-for-profit energy company by 2021, which will support our efforts to tackle fuel poverty. The public energy company will also support economic development and help to achieve our climate change targets.
The Fuel Poverty (Target, Definition and Strategy) Bill aims to align fuel poverty with relative income poverty more closely, to better target support for those needing it the most, wherever they live. The target of less than 5% of people in fuel poverty by 2040 is stretching but achievable, and we are working with stakeholders from across the country to improve national delivery programmes and encourage the development of innovation and local solutions.
While we are making good progress in making Scotland a Living Wage nation, and are ahead of the rest of the UK, there are particular sectors and communities that are still not being paid well enough to have a decent standard of living. We will recognise the first Living Wage town by the end of 2018 and by the end of April 2019 we will increase the number of workers receiving a pay increase to the Living Wage by 7,500 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.
Tackling food poverty
A modern vibrant and successful Scotland, with our abundant natural resources, should not tolerate any child or adult going hungry. But too many people are suffering from hunger and many go without to provide for their loved ones. More people in Scotland have relied on support from Food Banks this year, linked to the UK Government’s welfare cuts.
In addition to our Attainment Scotland Fund, we have made more money available to support 34 projects across Scotland providing food security in dignified ways and are investing £1 million over the next two years to support children at risk of going hungry during the school holidays. But we know that more needs to be done.
We will step up our work to tackle food insecurity among children by providing an additional £2 million of funding to help accelerate action. We will work with COSLA, local authorities, the third sector and other stakeholders to build momentum, trial new approaches and develop a clear plan of action for the future to eradicate holiday hunger.
We will also look for opportunities to identify and share the successes that local authorities and schools are having in tackling holiday hunger through our £750 million Attainment Scotland Fund.
On top of this action, in summer 2019 we will deliver a new scheme for Healthy Start Vouchers, Best Start Foods, linked to our social security system, which will support families on lower incomes to access healthy and nutritious food.
Access to essential sanitary products
We have delivered on our commitment to make free sanitary products available to all those attending Scotland’s schools, colleges and universities.
And we have gone further and taken action to ensure that those that cannot afford to buy essential sanitary products are able to access them, without stigma. Following a successful pilot in Aberdeen we have expanded our commitment to free sanitary products through a scheme to help low-income households. The scheme run by FareShare aims to reach nearly 19,000 women across Scotland.
In the coming year we will go even further as we aim to increase the number and range of places where sanitary products are available for those who need them. We will do this through working with a range of public and private sector organisations and with additional third sector partners to expand the geographical spread of support.
We will continue to call on the UK Government to give the Scottish share of the Tampon Tax Fund to the Scottish Government to allow us to distribute those funds in line with Scottish priorities.
A compassionate social security system
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 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. Working with the UK Government, we will start making payments from 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 their first child and £300 on the birth of any further 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, by summer 2019, will also see families get a further £250 for each of their children at key points in their early years such as starting nursery and school.
We will continue to work with the UK Government as they develop systems to provide us with the information we need so we can put more money into the pockets of families.
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.
As a further step in implementing the Social Security (Scotland) Act 2018, we will establish the Scottish Commission on Social Security to scrutinise the new Scottish system (including benefit regulations) and hold Scottish Ministers to account. This will also ensure that the Scottish Parliament has the benefit of expert advice from an independent body. The Chair and Members of the Commission will be appointed in January 2019.
These changes are significant but only cover 15% of the social security spend in Scotland. The UK Government will still have control of critical benefits such as Universal Credit.
We will show through our safe and secure transition of the 11 benefits that have been transferred into Scotland’s hands that this is the best place to take decisions and deliver social security for our population.
We’ll help people on Low incomes by delivering The best Start grant To increase support for families With young children
The death of a child is one of the most awful experiences anyone will ever face. We will provide funding to local authorities to support the removal of burial and cremation fees for children aged under 18. Our joint commitment with COSLA will be implemented by the end of 2018, helping to reduce the financial worries for bereaved parents. We are working with local authorities to agree how to pass funding to private cemeteries and crematoriums who agree to waive these fees, to ensure consistency of provision across Scotland.
Empowered and thriving communities
People, communities and place must be at the heart of sustainable and inclusive growth, so that economic benefits and opportunities can be spread and shared across Scotland’s people and communities.
As we implement our community empowerment legislation, we will see alignment between national and local outcomes that will enable co-ordinated support across services and between places, at neighbourhood, town, city or regional levels, and a more joined-up, collaborative and participative approach to services, land, and buildings across all sectors within a place.
Local Governance Review
We want to devolve more power to more local levels – for communities to have more say about how public services in their area are run and for local councils and their public sector partners to have the powers needed to grow their local economies and increase the wellbeing of their communities. We have launched the Local Governance Review, jointly with COSLA, and the Democracy Matters conversation with communities across Scotland will continue throughout the remainder of 2018.
The findings from the Review will be used to put in place new governance arrangements, and where legislation is needed we will deliver these through a Local Democracy Bill.
Our Regeneration Strategy recognises that a sustained and co-ordinated place-based approach across the public sector and its partners, working with people and communities, is needed to address the deeply ingrained economic, environmental and social issues faced by some of Scotland’s communities. And community-led regeneration delivers inclusive growth by supporting interventions which respond to local circumstances and increases opportunities to attract investment and jobs in those communities, while building community and regional cohesion.
Over the duration of this Parliament we will continue to deliver and support regeneration through funding and investment. We will continue to stimulate inclusive growth through the Regeneration Capital Grant Fund in partnership with local government. We have now invested in more than 110 projects since 2014, with projects recommended in this financial year expected to support or create around 1,400 jobs, refurbish and bring back into use a number of historic and landmark buildings, create more than 26,000 sq. m of business space and support over 80 community facilities and services. Our SPRUCE investment loan fund will continue to provide new investment for projects utilising recycled funds with 11 investments now complete and the Vacant and Derelict Land Fund we deliver with local authority partners will continue to bring back land into use. We will also continue our sponsorship of Clyde Gateway.
We will look for opportunities to facilitate more support to enable people and communities to take charge; and, beyond our funding and resources, we will address the need to work across government and the wider public, private and third sectors to combine resources more effectively and fully involve communities.
Social enterprise and a strong third sector
Later this month, Scotland will welcome the Social Enterprise World Forum, marking 10 years since it was first held in Edinburgh. Social enterprises contribute £2 billion to our economy each year and provide jobs for around 80,000 people. They can be an exemplar of sustainable and inclusive economic growth. We will continue our work to maintain Scotland’s place as a world-leading social enterprise nation in the year ahead by:
- using the Year of Young People 2018 and our delivery of social enterprise activity in schools and early learning establishments across Scotland to raise awareness of social enterprise as a viable and rewarding career
- doubling our seed funding for start-ups from £500,000 to £1 million through our national social enterprise incubator
- providing over £134,000 funding in 2018-19 to expand the innovative Community Shares Scotland programme, which has helped social entrepreneurs raise more than £10 million for over 100 community projects since 2014
- conducting a national census of the sector over summer 2019
The third sector is a crucial part of our social and economic infrastructure, playing a key part in the ongoing reform of our public services – without them we would not be able to innovate, adapt and maintain our drive to tackle deep-rooted social challenges in the way we are. That is why we continue to invest in the sector, and have made a point of maintaining our levels of funding within the third sector budget at £24.5 million.
It is over 17 years since the McFadden Commission proposed establishing a Scottish charity regulator, and more than 13 years since the passage of the Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act 2005. To ensure public confidence in charities and in the Scottish Charity Regulator is maintained we will consult on updating legislation to promote transparency and accountability.
We have made progress on our drive to increase participation in volunteering across society, building on the growth of youth volunteering during the Year of Young People by investing in the establishment of a National Youth Volunteering Design Team who will make recommendations to the Scottish Government early next year on actions required to grow participation rates. We have also invested in the development of our volunteering evidence base and maintained our funding to support third sector organisations to engage with those facing barriers to participation, providing £3.8 million over the period 2017-20 through the Volunteering Support Fund. In the coming year we will publish a National Volunteering Outcomes Framework that will set out a coherent and compelling vision for volunteering and identify the key evidence and data to drive an increase in participation for all.
We will continue our work as part of the Open Government Partnership – a multilateral organisation of over 90 governments worldwide committed to openness, transparency and citizen participation. Our first action plan has been completed, delivering actions on participatory budgeting, financial transparency and aligning the new National Performance Framework to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. It has been independently reviewed and we are working with others to co-produce a second action plan – which will be for two years.
We will consult on proposals to extend coverage of Scotland’s freedom of information legislation, for example to companies providing services on behalf of the public sector. Working with the Scottish Information Commissioner, we will continue to make improvements in the way we respond to Freedom of Information requests, building on the work done in the last year.
The Electoral Reform Bill will implement a range of reforms including extending the role of the Electoral Management Board and giving greater flexibility for the Local Government Boundary Commission to take account of community ties and local geography when reviewing ward boundaries
We will bring forward an Electoral Reform Bill that will implement a range of reforms including extending the role of the Electoral Management Board and giving greater flexibility for the Local Government Boundary Commission to take account of community ties and local geography when reviewing ward boundaries. This Bill will be the first opportunity for the Scottish Parliament to use powers in relation to elections devolved by the Scotland Act 2016.
Our partnership with local government
The success of this, and future Programmes for Government, is rooted in the strength of our partnership with local government and the expertise and commitment of those communities and organisations delivering a wide range of services across the public, private and third sector.
This Programme for Government offers the opportunity to build on our achievements and reaffirms our commitment to a strong partnership between national and local government. This is supported by the refreshed National Performance Framework that we launched in partnership with COSLA earlier this year.
This past year, we have seen the benefit of our partnership with local government in taking forward some of our most ambitious reforms:
- we have reached a sustainable settlement for the delivery of our early learning and childcare reforms and agreed the way forward to ensure the improvements to our education system are led by schools and teachers
- we have renewed our efforts to tackle homelessness and eradicate rough sleeping
- through our joint work alongside the Scottish Refugee Council, we updated our New Scots Refugee Integration Strategy, continuing our commitment to welcome refugees and asylum seekers into our communities
- we have provided free sanitary products in every school, college and university – working together to end period poverty
- we continue working together towards investing over £3 billion to deliver at least 50,000 affordable homes by 2021
- we are partners in the transformation of health and social care, delivering the integration of services and agreeing a set of public health priorities for Scotland, ahead of the creation of a new public health body in 2019
- together, we are supporting regeneration and developing long-term strategic approaches to improving regional economies through our City Region deals
- we remain committed to tackling climate change and working together with businesses and communities on Scotland’s transition to a low carbon economy
This partnership is essential as we continue the delivery of the next stage of our long-term reforms of public services:
- our jointly-led local governance review will focus on and strengthen local decision-making and democratic governance in ways that engage communities, improve outcomes, grow Scotland’s economy, and encourage innovation
- we are committed to supporting the further empowerment of our communities through increased participation and decision making, not least through our continued investment in participatory budgeting
- we will continue to explore the potential of data driven innovation to transform our everyday lives and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our public services
- despite the UK Government’s cuts to the Scottish Resource Budget in the ongoing challenging fiscal environment, we will continue to work constructively and openly with local government to deliver a fair funding settlement to enable them to meet our shared ambitions for the people and communities we serve
- through our commitment to increasing infrastructure investment, we will work with local government to identify those investments that will unlock economic potential, support jobs and allow our businesses to grow and communities to flourish
- we will continue to engage with COSLA and other local government stakeholders at both political and official levels to help inform and develop our approach to Brexit and to help them prepare for the UK leaving the EU
- we will work in partnership with local services to radically reform the way we support wellbeing and respond to and treat mental ill-health
- in order to tackle adverse childhood experiences, we will support our public services to work collaboratively, and with communities, across early years, education, health and justice. To do this most effectively, we will ensure these services nurture and develop an adversity and trauma-informed workforce
The partnership between the Scottish Government and local government is key to enabling the delivery of our reforms and to ensuring improved outcomes for the people of Scotland. Only through an effective partnership can we make the best use of our collective resources and work together to tackle our most difficult challenges – making a real difference to the prosperity and wellbeing of our communities.
Housing and infrastructure
We have delivered more than 76,500 affordable homes since 2007.
That is almost 52,600 homes for social rent – including 9,799 council homes – over 5,600 for affordable rent, and almost 18,400 for affordable home ownership. We continue to lead the way in the UK in our investment in housing. Between 2012 and 2017 more council houses were delivered across 32 local authority areas in Scotland than across 326 local authority areas in England.
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.
In this financial year over £756 million is available to increase the supply of affordable homes across Scotland up from £590 million in 2017-18. More homes will be delivered through our commitments to local authorities and also through demand-led national schemes such as the Rural and Islands Housing Fund.
Our homes ownership schemes, Open Market Shared Equity and Help to Buy (Scotland) will support more than 3,500 households into home ownership in this financial year.
Through our £150 million Building Scotland Fund we are establishing a viable pipeline of projects, including housing projects across all tenures. The homes supported by this Fund are over and above our commitment to deliver 50,000 affordable homes during this Parliament.
We continue to support the Empty Homes Partnership. We have doubled the funding available to support bringing empty homes back into use – adding to the 3,200 empty homes this work has brought back into use since 2010.
Building on the success of the Highland Self-build Loan Fund pilot, a £4 million, national Self-build Loan Fund will launch this month and run for three years, offering eligible self-builders struggling to access financial assistance, loans of up to £175,000 for development costs related to their self-build project. It will be available in both urban and rural areas and is designed to help applicants reach build completion allowing them to access a traditional mortgage which is then used to repay the loan. We will showcase best practice and provide further advice and support through our Self-Build forums.
We are committed to eradicating rough sleeping in Scotland and transforming the use of temporary accommodation. In the past year we have allocated £21 million towards rapid rehousing and Housing First to get rough sleepers and those living in temporary accommodation into permanent homes more quickly. This money comes from our £50 million Ending Homelessness Together Fund with £1.5 million from the £20 million of funding for addictions set out last year.
Rapid rehousing will see local authorities transform their response to homelessness for the majority of households by ensuring people are quickly offered settled accommodation, significantly reducing the need for – and time spent in – temporary forms of accommodation.
For those who require intensive support to sustain settled housing, including tackling mental health challenges and addictions, Housing First provides permanent accommodation as a first, rather than last, response for people with complex needs. Our funding includes up to £4 million support for pathfinders being established in five cities by Housing First Scotland, also supported by Social Bite and the Corra Foundation. These projects started placing tenants with a Housing First support package in August and aim to support up to 845 placements over the next two years, while ensuring learning is captured and shared across all areas.
In the year ahead we will act on the recommendations from the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group and the Scottish Parliament’s Local Government and Communities Committee. Later this year we will publish the high-level action plan for delivery of the recommendations, which will be led by the Homelessness Prevention and Strategy Group and a range of partners including local authorities.
Deliver 50,000 Affordable homes By 2021
We will also join up the work of the Action Group with ongoing partnership initiatives which are working to ensure that everyone leaving custody has somewhere appropriate to live, supporting their rehabilitation, and reducing their risk of reoffending.
Housing for disabled people
We are committed to delivering more wheelchair accessible housing to help people who need it to live independently in their community. We know that many disabled people would like to own their own home and in the coming year we will issue guidance to local authorities to support them in setting targets for the delivery of wheelchair accessible housing across all tenures within their areas.
We will also work with private house builders and disabled people to increase the numbers of accessible houses for sale using a range of options including the potential to develop standard accessible wheelchair house types. We will involve disabled people in the development work, particularly in assessing the level of demand to buy their own homes.
We know that for some communities, the impact of short-term lets, particularly of an entire home, has caused difficulties for those wanting to buy or rent long term and upset the quality of life for permanent residents in our cities and islands and rural areas.
While we want to ensure that tourists have places to stay, we do not currently always have the right balance between supporting tourism and the economic and other benefits it brings through short-term lets and what is right for local communities.
In the coming year, we will work with local government, communities and business interests to ensure that local authorities have the appropriate regulatory powers to allow them to take the decisions to balance the needs and concerns of their communities with wider economic and tourism interests. These powers will allow local authorities to ensure a safe, quality experience for visitors, whilst protecting the interests of local communities.
Building standards and fire safety
We have robust rules in place for the safety of our buildings and will take action to ensure that where there is room for improvement, we make changes. In the coming year we will continue to implement the actions recommended by the Ministerial Working Group established following the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower in London.
As part of that, we will introduce new fire and smoke alarm legislation to ensure everyone has the same level of protection, regardless of tenure. We will also implement the recommendations of two Scottish Building Standards system reviews completed in 2018. This will strengthen and enhance key aspects of the Scottish Building Standards system including increased emphasis on the roles and responsibilities of key players in the construction journey and the need for effective enforcement – making our buildings as safe as they can be. We will bring forward legislation in the lifetime of this Parliament to make it a legal requirement for all future new build social housing properties to be filled with automatic fire-suppression systems.
Delivering a world-class planning system
Planning has a vital role to play in shaping Scotland, now and in the future. It can nurture our places, our environment and our communities, guiding future changes so they benefit everyone. We believe that the system needs to change to better respond to a changing world and are currently working to improve Scotland’s planning system, through a comprehensive package of reform, so that it can realise its full potential.
We introduced the Planning (Scotland) Bill to Parliament in December 2017 as part of the continuing programme of reform to simplify the system, support inclusive growth and provide confidence for investors and communities. Following passage of the Bill, we will focus on delivering the changes needed to make the Planning system work for everyone. This includes the review of Scotland’s National Planning Framework ( NPF4) to develop a spatial vision for Scotland until 2050, supported by a delivery programme which consolidates infrastructure investment, health and climate change objectives into a single plan. It is also an opportunity to strengthen the contribution of planning policy to our overall ambitions for improving Scotland’s health and addressing inequalities.
We know the places where we live, work and play can have a major impact on our health, wellbeing and prosperity. Planning can support the development of high quality, well-designed places and communities. Recognising this, we are continuing to modernise and support the use of compulsory purchase orders to regenerate communities and deliver essential infrastructure. We will expand our support for community-led design, building upon the successful use of the Place Standard tool to ensure early involvement by communities in shaping development in their area.
In November 2018 we will set out what is needed to deliver a world-leading digital planning service and how we will achieve this transformative change. Through exploiting the potential of emerging technologies and data-driven innovations, we will build the foundation for an efficient and high-performing digital planning system and can maximise the huge opportunity to increase involvement of people, particularly young people, in their communities, using new ways to engage.
Housing beyond 2021
We want everyone in Scotland to have a home that is warm, affordable and accessible. And we want to support our most disadvantaged communities and create great places that are sustainable and promote wellbeing. Given the long lead-in times for housing delivery, we have started work on our approach to housing supply beyond 2021. We remain committed to meeting demand for homes across all tenures but Scotland faces a number of challenges, including caring for our ageing population and the negative impact of the UK Government’s approach to both Brexit and welfare cuts.
We want to deliver more of the right homes in the right places to meet the housing needs and aspirations of the people of Scotland. We want this to be a lasting legacy that is not just about new homes. We need to make the best use of our existing buildings too. That is why we are proposing to develop a new approach encompassing the whole housing system.
Housing has a vital role to play in meeting our aims for Scotland including eradicating child poverty and homelessness, ending fuel poverty and tackling the effects of climate change.
We have already put in place an Energy Efficient Scotland route map to 2040 describing how to make all of our homes warmer, greener and more energy efficient. Now we are going to consult on a wider vision for housing in 2040 and the steps we all need to take to get there.
We want to provide confidence to householders and businesses to plan ahead. Over the period to 2040, we will change the way we spend public money to support housing services and delivery. We will ensure that the economic and business environment supports housing investment and an efficient housing market. We will make our housing system fairer, especially for young people and others who do not currently own a home. We will explore new sources of funding for, and innovative ways of, building homes and providing care and other services at home. We will set new standards around accessibility, energy efficiency, quality and safety. Our homes will be connected, physically, digitally, culturally and economically, to their surroundings and promote healthy lifestyles, wellbeing and physical activity.
Over the next 12 months, we will be engaging extensively with local government, businesses, the third sector, home owners, tenants and others to plan together how our homes and communities should look and feel in 2040 and the options and choices to get there.
Scottish Crown Estate
We will continue to progress the Scottish Crown Estate Bill through the Scottish Parliament. The Bill allows for local control and decision-making over Crown assets and allows wider socio-economic and environmental benefits to be taken into account in land management as well as commercial interests.
We will also bring financial benefits to communities. We are committed to ensuring communities will benefit from the net revenue from the Scottish Crown Estate marine assets.
We will continue to support community land purchases through our £10 million per year Scottish Land Fund, including extending it until 2021.
We want to increase the amount of land owned by urban communities so we will encourage and support communities in urban areas to consider opportunities to buy land and assets.
We will continue to support the Scottish Land Commission to shape the land reform agenda. In the year ahead the Commission will publish papers on key issues such as land value capture and ways to make it easier for communities to own land. It will also publish codes of practice to help landowners and communities manage land in the most effective way, encouraging them to work together and promoting change on the ground. This year the Commission will also work with private and public organisations to develop more ways of bringing more vacant and derelict land into productive use.
We will progress land reform by continuing to promote the Scottish Land Rights and Responsibilities Statement, as well as working with landowners and communities to follow our Guidance on Engaging Communities in Decisions Relating to Land.
Scottish Land Fund
In 2017 the Scottish Land Fund awarded over £10 million to 38 groups across Scotland for the acquisition of land and land assets. The investments include:
- £4.415 million to North West Mull Community Woodland Company to acquire the island of Ulva
- £648,300 to the Bannockburn House Trust to acquire historic Bannockburn House near Stirling
- £65,800 to Easthall Residents Association in the east end of Glasgow to acquire neglected and derelict sites to create two areas that will provide facilities for outdoor activities and sports
- £647,500 to Action Porty in Edinburgh to acquire Bellfield Church for a wide range of community activities and events
Strong, connected communities
By the end of this year we will publish a national strategy to tackle social isolation and loneliness, taking account of what we heard from communities when we consulted earlier this year. We are one of the first in the world to develop a national strategy to tackle one of the crucial social issues our society faces. In the coming year this strategy will help to raise awareness about what we can all do to reduce social isolation and loneliness; deliver resources to community groups who need a helping hand to foster social connections in their area and ensure that every part of government is focused on how we empower communities to build a connected Scotland.
As we live longer and healthier lives the way we support and harness the skills and talents of our older people needs to change. Over the next 20 years we will see a large increase in people over 75 with more than 70% of all population growth in the over 75 age group.
We are proud of the support we provide to our older people such as free personal care and concessionary travel. We recognise the contribution they have made but that many older people have much more they want to give back. We will publish an Older People’s Framework by March 2019 that will deliver improved equality outcomes for older people. We will identify and work to reduce barriers that older people face in making contributions to society whether in work or in their communities. It will ensure that there is clear strategic ownership of Scotland’s approach to our ageing population, informed directly by the voices of older people and that there is consistent messaging across the public sector on the positives of ageing and addressing the negative perceptions that older people face.
We know that where we live has a huge impact on our wellbeing. Too often old age can be isolating. In the coming year we will pilot innovative housing solutions for older people, testing intergenerational and other co-living arrangements to meet housing needs and reduce loneliness.
Gypsy Traveller families
We are strengthening our work to improve the wellbeing and protect the human rights of Gypsy Traveller families in Scotland. We are supporting greater opportunities for the voice of the Gypsy Traveller community to be heard in decisions that affect their lives. This year we will:
- provide over £1 million funding, over three years, to organisations supporting the Gypsy Traveller community
- consider what further actions are needed to ensure our public services meet the needs of the community
- give the community a stronger voice in the future development of where they live and ensure that they have safe and secure places to stop or settle through planning reform
- invest £100,000 to establish the new Gypsy Traveller Women’s Voices Project to empower women in the community to participate in public life in Scotland
To help children and young people in this community to overcome barriers to their learning and opportunities we will:
- support the new Young Gypsy Traveller Assembly to ensure the views of young people are central to our work
- provide an additional £275,000 to support and share best practice in delivering education for all ages and stages through the Scottish Traveller Education Project ( STEP) to pave the way for a further £500,000 Tackling Child Poverty Fund investment in a community education programme starting from 2019
Scotland is a diverse, multicultural and tolerant place and we encourage our communities to be strong, resilient and cohesive. However, there is still work to be done to tackle the prejudices and attitudes that fuel intolerance and a key aspect of this is developing modern laws that show there is no place for hate crime. We agree with Lord Bracadale’s recommendation that hate crime laws should be consolidated into a single piece of legislation and, taking account of his recommendations, we will consult on the legislation that is needed to reflect life in 21st-century Scotland.
We will respond to recommendations on how to improve gender equality in Scotland from the First Minister’s National Advisory Council on Women and Girls. We will ensure that gender equality continues to be central to our policy development, and give early consideration to the Advisory Council’s advice on putting in place a robust process to ensure that the next and future Programmes for Government are gender sensitive.
The First Minister’s Advisory Group on Human Rights Leadership will present its recommendations by the end of 2018. We will respond in full, and will prioritise actions that can be taken to address the human rights and equality impact of Brexit.
We have righted the historic wrong of criminalisation of consensual same-sex activity and people can apply to have such convictions removed from central records.
The Census Bill will allow National Records of Scotland to ask voluntary questions on sexual orientation and transgender status in the 2021 Census and future censuses
We will also:
- continue to promote and strengthen interfaith dialogue and understanding, including through an Interfaith Summit
- continue to implement the Race Equality Action Plan and hold the first annual race equality conference in December
- take forward work on proposed changes to the system for obtaining legal gender recognition, replacing the UK Gender Recognition Panel. We will bring forward legislation on gender recognition in the next legislative programme
- introduce a Census Bill to permit National Records of Scotland to ask voluntary questions on sexual orientation and transgender status/history in the 2021 Census and future censuses
- preserve and advance Scotland’s reputation as one of the most progressive countries in Europe in terms of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex ( LGBTI) equality
Support for people with autism and learning disabilities
We are committed to transforming the lives of autistic people and people with learning disabilities and addressing the inequalities they can face throughout their lives. This year we have refreshed our priorities to focus on ensuring people with autism and learning disability live healthier lives, have choice and control over the services they use, and are supported to be independent and active citizens. We will:
- improve early diagnosis of neurodevelopmental disorders, which includes autism, by better collaboration of services by the end of 2020
- provide additional support to improve diagnosis of autism and support for people and their families after diagnosis by the end of 2019
- invest in training for professionals working with autistic people including funding a two-day autism training course for up to 500 school teachers and support staff in 2018
- work with national charities to raise awareness of autism
- develop national awards for excellence in care and provision of services for autistic people by March 2019
- support awareness-raising, showing the positive contribution that people with a learning disability can make throughout their lives in 2019
- support further work on employment with the Independent Task Group on Employment for people with a learning disability due to report in autumn 2018
- support the implementation of further work on complex care for learning disabilities including appropriate training and supporting health and social care partnerships to reduce out of area placements from autumn 2018
Our justice system
Our justice system must have the needs of victims and witnesses at its heart. As part of our ongoing reforms we will strengthen victims’ rights and support, increase transparency and extend the opportunity for those affected by crime to have their voices heard. We will take specific actions to support victims of gender-based violence and drive forward work to end violence against women and girls.
We will maintain our focus on prevention, early intervention and services that support rehabilitation and reduce re-offending. Reconviction rates are at their lowest in nearly 20 years, recorded crime is at its lowest level since 1974 and 95% of adults in Scotland rate their neighbourhood as very or fairly good.
Building on reforms already delivered to ensure modern and effective justice services, we will continue to support the vital work of Police Scotland and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and invest in digital technology. We will consult on a number of areas to modernise our civil justice system – including the law of defamation. And we will do what we can do ensure that the negative impact of Brexit on our criminal and civil justice systems is minimised.
Our focus on preventing adverse childhood experiences and improving life chances for all will shape how future generations engage with the justice system. A person who has had four or more adverse childhood experiences is up to 20 times more likely to have been in prison or an offender’s institution at some point in their life. By preventing and mitigating the impact of adverse childhood experiences now we will reduce the need for intervention from the justice system as those children become adults.
Improving support for victims of crime
We want to do all we can to improve the experience of victims. Navigating the justice system can be daunting and, beyond that, we understand that the need for support and information for victims and families does not end at the point of sentencing.
We have made good progress in recent years on enhancing the rights and support available to victims. Building on this, the Vulnerable Witnesses (Criminal Evidence) Bill we have introduced to Parliament will remove legislative barriers to child and vulnerable adult witnesses giving pre-recorded video evidence.
We have carefully considered the views of victims and victims organisations and in the coming year we will go further to make sure that information and support is there at every step of the way.
To do this 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, by spring 2019, a new support service for families bereaved by murder and culpable homicide, developed and delivered with Victim Support Scotland to provide dedicated and continuous support
Improving the experience of rape and sexual assault victims
Improving the experience of rape and sexual assault victims in the criminal justice system is a key priority for all involved in the justice system. In addition to wider actions to support victims of crime, in the year ahead we will:
- provide an additional £1.1 million of funding to allow trials involving rape to start at the earliest opportunity and minimise the distress caused to victims
- consult on proposals to clarify in legislation the responsibility for forensic medical examinations to ensure that access to healthcare, as well as a forensic medical examination for victims of rape and sexual assault, is a NHS priority and consistently provided for throughout Scotland
- continue to work with others, such as NHS Education Scotland, to achieve a gender balance of professionals trained to undertake forensic medical examinations so that where a victim requests the specific gender of the forensic examiner involved in their care, this can be met
We want to encourage everyone to come forward if they have been a victim of domestic or sexual abuse – and we want them to be able to access the right support that is clearly needed, when they need it. Therefore, we will be investing an additional £2 million over the next three years to ensure that support can be provided. Rape Crisis Centres will be given an additional £1.5 million over three years from next month – helping these services plan for the future and ensure that more people can receive access to the support they need. The remainder of the funding will be used for other initiatives focused on prevention and early intervention and help to ensure that gender based violence is reduced and prevented from happening in the first place.
Tackling domestic abuse
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. It will enhance the safety of those at risk of domestic abuse and ensure that courts consider the harmful impact on children when sentencing for domestic abuse.
Improve The experiences of victims And witnesses of crime
Domestic abuse is one of the core adverse childhood experiences, and no child should have to experience it. We have supported Police Scotland and third sector agencies to deliver an ambitious training programme including over 14,000 front-line police officers and staff to allow the new legislation to be implemented in the coming year.
We will build on this work in the coming year by:
- consulting in the autumn on further protections for those at risk of domestic abuse through new protective orders that could be used to keep victims of domestic abuse safe by banning perpetrators from their homes and on whether changes are needed to the current system of exclusion orders
- supporting the expansion of the innovative Caledonian Programme into a further six local authority areas with £2.8 million over the next two years – so that more male perpetrators of domestic abuse can receive specific rehabilitation services
- launching a consultation in November 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
Consult On widening 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
Preventing and eradicating violence against women and girls
We will continue to drive forward work to prevent and reduce all forms of gender-based violence, as set out in our Equally Safe delivery plan. In the coming year this includes:
- taking forward our work with key stakeholders to consider how the Barnahus concept for immediate trauma-informed support for child victims of serious and traumatic crimes can operate within the context of Scotland’s healthcare and criminal justice system
- launching a major national campaign in spring 2019 to challenge sexual harassment and sexism
- developing an information resource about gender-based violence for children and young people
- launch a consultation in November 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
- pilot an accreditation scheme for employers which will support employers to tackle gender-based violence in their workforces
- convene a roundtable later in 2018 on what more can be done to tackle online abuse and misogyny, and engage with media companies on tackling harmful gender stereotypes
- continue to work to reduce harm and increase opportunities for women to leave prostitution, including establishing a multi-agency group to tackle the issues that can lead to someone becoming exploited in this way
The Female Genital Mutilation Bill will strengthen the protection of women and girls from a form of gender based violence, seeking to introduce protection orders for women and girls at risk and statutory guidance for professionals
We will bring forward a Female Genital Mutilation Bill to strengthen the protection of women and girls from this form of gender-based violence. The Bill will propose protection orders for women and girls at risk and statutory guidance for professionals. We will also consult with communities to understand what further protections may be helpful.
Restorative Justice can lead to a route out of crime and provide closure and redress to victims and communities. We know that it can empower victims of crime and reduce offending. We want to have restorative justice services widely available across Scotland by 2023 with the interests of victims at their heart. We will publish a Restorative Justice Action Plan by spring 2019 that will set out how we deliver this aim.
Prevention and rehabilitation
We will expand our successful approach to youth justice using proven partnership working to keep children out of justice and care systems while addressing harmful behaviour. Our new investment will improve existing services and by extending, where possible, the support to young people up to the age of 21 and care experienced young people up to the age of 26 we are recognising and addressing adverse childhood experiences. As part of our commitment to improving the life chances of young people, we have protected criminal justice social work funding at record levels of around £100 million per year.
In the year ahead we will extend the presumption against short prison sentences to 12 months, once additional safeguards for victims in the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018 are in force.
We have responded to the recommendations made in the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee report on its Inquiry into the Use of Remand in Scotland. We recognise that the impact of remand can be similar to that of short prison sentences in terms of disrupting employment, housing and family relationships. While remand is necessary in some cases, including for the protection of the public, we will issue revised guidance and provide additional funding for supervised and supported bail to help ensure that remand is only used where necessary and appropriate.
We will consider carefully the outcomes of parallel reviews by HM Inspectorate of Prisons for Scotland and HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland into arrangements for Home Detention Curfew ( HDC), including breaches of HDC. We will work with the Scottish Prison Service, Police Scotland and other partners to ensure a continuing focus on public safety and reintegration.
We will continue to support the work of the Scottish Prison Service in providing services that help to transform the lives of the people in its care.
We will continue to invest in the prison service estate and infrastructure for both men and women, including healthcare facilities. Work is progressing on the development of a new model for the female custodial estate. The new model will offer access to intensive support services, to help women in custody overcome issues such as alcohol, drugs, mental ill-health and domestic abuse trauma which can often drive offending behaviour. The Scottish Prison Service will open the first two community custody units in Dundee and Glasgow and the new national prison by the end of 2020.
Modern justice system
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.
The Biometric Data Bill will enhance oversight of biometric data and techniques used for the purposes of justice and community safety
We will introduce a Biometric Data Bill to take forward the recommendations of the Independent Advisory Group on the Use of Biometric Data chaired by John Scott QC.
The Bill will enhance oversight of biometric data and techniques used for the purposes of justice and community safety. It will include provision for the creation of a statutory code of practice covering the acquisition, use, retention and disposal of data including fingerprints, DNA and facial images. We will ensure an appropriately distinct and proportionate approach to capturing biometric data for children aged between 12 and 17.
We will continue to work with others to use technology to transform criminal justice processes including developing digital evidence sharing to help bring cases to swifter conclusion.
We will respond to the recommendations made by the independent review Rethinking Legal Aid. While its report set out a 10-year vision for the legal aid system in Scotland, there are a range of improvements that can be made in the short to medium-term to simplify the system while longer-term and more ambitious reforms are developed. These include changes in solicitor fees that reflect new processes in the criminal justice system, and make it easier for solicitors to claim fees from the Scottish Legal Aid Board.
The independent review of the regulation of legal services is due to submit its report to us in the autumn. We will engage with relevant stakeholders and set out how we intend to respond to those recommendations.
We will continue to make sure our civil legal system is fit for purpose and in the coming year will consult on a range of measures that will modernise our laws.
We want our law of defamation to be fit for 21st-century Scotland with a clear and accessible framework that balances freedom of expression and protection of individual reputation. We will take the next steps to bring forward legislation to reform the law in this area by consulting on the Scottish Law Commission’s Report and draft Bill.
We will consult on the future of civil partnership in Scotland, in light of the recent judgement by the UK Supreme Court on the issue of a couple seeking to enter into a mixed sex civil partnership in England. The consultation, which will be with a view to bringing forward legislation, will launch later this year. Couples already in a civil partnership will be able to remain in that partnership for as long as they both wish.
We will also consult on a fresh approach to the reform of succession law and on implementing the Scottish Law Commission’s report on judicial factors (appointed by the court to look after property belonging to someone else) to modernise the law in both of these areas.
The Disclosure Bill will simplify the disclosure system and strike the right balance between strengthened safeguarding and helping people with convictions get back to work
To modernise and improve proportionality in the disclosure system we will introduce a new Disclosure Bill. This will simplify the system and strike the right balance between strengthened safeguarding and helping people with convictions get back to work. We will provide a digital way to improve safeguarding and access disclosures that is more responsive to Scotland’s people.
Animal welfare and ‘Finn’s Law’
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’. We will continue work to introduce and reform licensing of animal activities including animal sanctuaries, rehoming centres, breeding and the use of animals in public display or performance.
We will introduce 'finn’s law' To increase sentences for Attacks on police dogs and Other service animals
Police Scotland provides a crucial public service, working across Scotland and internationally to keep our communities safe and protect our most vulnerable. Police officers across Scotland keep communities safe every day and many put their lives on the line as part of their service. We value the contribution that officers and staff make to delivering crucial services across the country, often in extremely challenging circumstances. With a refreshed leadership team at Police Scotland, the Scottish Police Authority ( SPA) and significant change to the SPA Board, there is an opportunity to forge enhanced relationships within and across organisations, working together to deliver improved services for the public.
Policing in Scotland has embarked on an ambitious transformation to implement the 10-year strategy ‘Policing 2026: Serving a Changing Scotland’. Significant enhancements in technology and services are being designed in collaboration with those working in frontline policing, communities and partners, supported by strong national specialist functions. This will further enable an empowered and well-equipped police workforce to deliver a service that meets emerging and future needs. In anticipation of the planned review of Policing 2026, in 2019 we will work with partners to revisit the Strategic Police Priorities which set the direction for policing in Scotland. We will increase our focus on collaborative working to ensure the most vulnerable in society receive the support they need.
We will continue to support the SPA and Police Scotland to deliver this transformation. We are protecting the police revenue budget in real terms over the lifetime of the Parliament – meaning an additional £100 million investment over five years – and providing £31 million of reform funding in this financial year. In addition, we have ensured that Police Scotland will retain £25 million following the long-awaited UK Government agreement to enable Police Scotland to recover VAT, putting more funding directly to day-to-day policing.
The SPA has initiated a significant improvement programme to strengthen police governance. We will continue to support the SPA to implement this programme.
On the rare occasion when things do go wrong, we want to make sure that the public have confidence that where things go wrong they know this will be investigated and lessons learned. That is why we have commissioned Rt. Hon Dame Elish Angiolini DBE QC to lead an independent review of complaints handling, investigations and misconduct issues in relation to policing. The review will start work this autumn.
Through the independent review of the impact of policing on communities during the Miners’ Strike, which is being led by John Scott QC, Scotland will lead the way in ensuring the experiences of those affected by dispute in the 1980s are properly understood. This represented an extremely turbulent and difficult time for many mining communities in Scotland. The feelings and scars from that time still run deep and there are questions that still need to be answered. The review will bring openness, understanding and a degree of closure to all those involved.
Fire and Rescue
The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service is changing to meet global challenges such as terrorism and climate change. Our commitment to transform the Service including introducing Rapid Response Vehicles and full-time posts in rural areas is backed by additional spending capacity of £15.5 million in this financial year.
As part of their work to continue to deliver for communities the service will:
- provide public charging points in a number of community fire stations, supporting our move to a low carbon economy
- develop a cadet scheme to encourage young people to be fit and active in their communities and deliver first-aid training for young people
- provide further training and equipment to fire-fighters to ensure they are equipped to deal with the emerging and changing risks faced by our communities
The safety and security of Scotland is a priority and we will continue to work with a range of partners to minimise the risk and impact of terrorist activity. We will work with the emergency response services, local authorities, the UK Government – and most importantly our communities – to ensure that we are appropriately and proportionately protected against all forms of national security threats. We will also continue to strengthen our approach to preventing radicalisation in Scotland.
Email: Kathryn Fergusson
Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit
The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
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