1. THE PURPOSE OF GOVERNMENT
The Scottish budget document, published in November 2007, defines a central purpose of focusing Government and public services on creating a more successful country, with opportunities for all of Scotland to flourish, through increasing sustainable economic growth. Sustainable economic growth does not just mean building up a rich economy - it will also mean building up a rich and responsible society.
The new Government Economic Strategy is central to the delivery of our overall Purpose. The delivery of the government's Purpose will be supported by five strategic objectives - to make Scotland wealthier & fairer, smarter, healthier, safer & stronger and greener. These, in turn, are supported by fifteen national outcomes which describe in more detail what the government wants to achieve over a ten year period. Early years and early intervention will contribute to all five strategic objectives and most, if not all, of the national outcomes.
Within the Government Economic Strategy five strategic priorities have been identified as being critical to economic growth. These are learning, skills & wellbeing; a supportive business environment; infrastructure development and place; effective government; and equity. The contribution of early years and early intervention is most readily identifiable through the learning, skills and wellbeing strand, and they will be major contributors to achieving equity.
The Government Economic Strategy sets out targets for improving solidarity and cohesion. These are: to increase overall income and the proportion of income earned by the three lowest income deciles as a group by 2017; and to narrow the gap in participation between Scotland's best and worst performing regions by 2017. Again, we believe that early years and early intervention will be critical to achieving these objectives.
The concordat between the Scottish Government and local government, published on 14 November 2007, set out the terms of a new relationship based on mutual respect and partnership.
This new relationship is represented by a package of measures, that includes an agreement to work together to develop policy. While the Scottish Government must set the direction of policy and the overarching outcomes, under the terms of the new relationship it will stand back from micro-managing service delivery, thus reducing bureaucracy and freeing up local authorities and their partners to meet the varying local needs and circumstances across Scotland.
The early years framework is one of the first examples of joint policy development between local and national government, and will be fully consistent with the underlying principles of the new relationship.
Delivering Transformational Change
There is a clear sense that the Purpose and the national outcomes cannot be fulfilled through a 'business as usual' approach and that transformational change is needed. We believe that transformational change will come through a focus on early years and early intervention, which sets high ambitions for all, while ensuring early identification of risks to those ambitions not being achieved and taking action to address those risks.
A number of common themes are emerging that underpin a wide range of current activity to improve outcomes for Scotland's people. These include:
- linking strategy and policy clearly to the national performance framework
- working more closely with delivery partners on strategy and action
- positive opportunities, empowerment and capacity building
- focus on prevention, risk identification and early intervention
- opportunities for action at individual, environmental (family, community, society) and service level
- personalisation of services and joining up at individual level to address a range of needs
- breaking cycles of poor outcomes
- managing transitions effectively.