While leading Scotland out of the pandemic remains our foremost priority – continuing our mass vaccination programme and preparing for a booster campaign in the autumn – this sits alongside rebuilding a stronger, more resilient health and care system centred on people; renewing our drive to eradicate child poverty and improve living standards; ending Scotland's contribution to climate change; and building a wellbeing economy which secures sustainable, inclusive growth for everyone, in all parts of Scotland.
The pandemic has strengthened our determination to ensure we do not just return to the status quo, but use this opportunity to secure a greener, fairer and more prosperous recovery, recognising that we cannot do it alone. In the same way that our response to the pandemic was a collective endeavour, so too must be our response to the challenges and opportunities before us. To support that, we will shortly publish a COVID Recovery Strategy, setting out our shared vision with Local Government to address the structural inequalities made worse by COVID‑19.
Delivering that recovery requires an immediate response. Building on the progress made in the first 100 days, this Programme for Government defines our response to the challenges ahead, and the better tomorrow we want to secure, across six long‑term priorities, and delivers on our promises to the people of Scotland:
1. Caring Nation: setting out a new vision for health and social care
Recovery from COVID‑19 across all of society is the Scottish Government's first and most pressing priority, in particular for those who have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. As such, we will strengthen our health service and ensure it is equipped to continue managing COVID‑19, support our recovery from it, and address longer term population health challenges. We will provide record investment in mental health and reduce the unacceptably high level of drug deaths in Scotland. We will pursue a radical new vision for social care that meets both our nation's changing demographic and the needs of individuals. And we will grasp the opportunity to address many of the deep‑rooted health inequalities COVID‑19 has exposed.
- Increase frontline health spending by 20% over this Parliament – providing at least £2.5 billion in additional funding by 2026‑27. We will deliver the first increase through the 2022‑23 budget.
- Drive forward our NHS Recovery Plan – investing £29 million this year to provide an additional 78,000 diagnostic procedures, and increase inpatient and day case activity by 10% in 2022‑23 and outpatient activity by 10% by 2025‑26.
- Support our health and social care staff to look after their own mental health and wellbeing. As an immediate step we are investing £8 million in a package of support this year, including the ongoing development of the National Wellbeing Hub, National Wellbeing Helpline, and psychological interventions and therapies for staff.
- Invest £10 billion over the next decade to replace and refurbish Scotland's health facilities, including £400 million in a new network of National Treatment Centres to increase elective care capacity. Work will start this year on two additional Centres in Cumbernauld and Ayrshire.
- Increase primary care funding by 25% over this Parliament, with half of all frontline health spend going on community health services – ensuring people get care at a time and in a place and way which best suits them. This includes funding to abolish NHS dentistry charges for young people aged under 26 within our first 100 days.
- Establish a National Care Service, backed by at least 25% more investment in social care over this Parliament. By June 2022, we will bring forward the legislation to enable its creation.
- Tackle the drugs death emergency by investing £250 million over this Parliament, focused on community‑based interventions, quick access to treatment and expansion of residential rehabilitation. This year we will ensure people have access to same‑day treatment and a wider range of treatment options.
- Increase direct mental health investment by at least 25% over this Parliament, ensuring that at least 10% of frontline NHS spend goes towards mental health and 1% goes on child and adolescent services.
2. Land Of Opportunity: supporting young people and promoting a fairer and more equal society
While we have taken bold action in recent years towards our aim of a truly equal nation, the pandemic has exacerbated the inequality in society. People from Minority Ethnic communities, disabled people, lone parents and low‑income households have disproportionately borne the negative impacts of the pandemic. Poverty remains driven by deep‑rooted issues that start at birth and have lifelong consequences, and too many children, through no fault of their own, miss out on experiences and opportunities because of it. Our Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan established a clear evidence base for the drivers of poverty, across employment, living costs, and household incomes, and we will continue to take forward a national mission to end child poverty focused on addressing those.
- Extend Scottish Child Payment to children under 16 by the end of 2022, and double it to £20 per week, per child as quickly as possible thereafter. Final decisions about timing and increases will be considered in the spending review and taken in the relevant budget. We will actively seek ways to accelerate the implementation, including considering options for staged increases.
- Provide immediate support to children and young people through Scottish Child Payment bridging payments of £520 in both 2021 and 2022. These will be paid quarterly for children in receipt of free school meals on the basis of low income, ahead of full roll‑out of Scottish Child payment to under 16's.
- Make an extra payment of Carer's Allowance Supplement this year, subject to Parliament passing legislation. Following the necessary pausing of work during the pandemic, we will also develop and launch the remaining devolved benefits, including the new Scottish Carer's Assistance.
- Begin work on a Minimum Income Guarantee, which would make sure that everyone in Scotland has enough money to live with dignity. In our first 100 days we have laid the foundations, setting up a Steering Group to consider issues of design and delivery, and launched a discussion platform.
- Invest £1 billion over this Parliament to tackle the poverty‑related attainment gap, taking forward a refreshed Scottish Attainment Challenge Programme, and implementing the recommendations of the OECD review of the curriculum.
- Provide funding for councils to support recruitment of 3,500 additional teachers and 500 classroom assistants – over and above the 1,400 recruited during the pandemic – with £50 million provided in our first 100 days to recruit 1,000 teachers and 500 classroom assistants. We have provided further funding to enable councils to make these posts permanent.
- Deliver a package of support to tackle the cost of the school day, and ensure all children have access to the same opportunities, including providing digital devices, free school trips, and expanding free school meals.
- Work to expand funded early learning and childcare for children aged 1 and 2, starting with low‑income households within this Parliament. In the coming year we will start engagement with families, the early learning sector and academics to design how the new offer will work.
- Build a system of wraparound school age childcare, offering care before and after school and in the holidays, which will be free to families on the lowest incomes. In the coming year we will engage people and communities – including children and young people – in designing options for this, and publish a 5 year delivery plan.
- Work with The Hunter Foundation on the Supporting Young People through Mentoring and Leadership programme, supporting up to 15,000 care experienced and disadvantaged young people across 300 schools to reach their full potential.
- Work across Government to #KeepThePromise – investing £500 million in a Whole Family Wellbeing Fund over the Parliament, to reduce crisis intervention and keep children and young people with their families, and introduce a new Care Experience Grant, a £200 annual payment over 10 years for care experienced young people.
- Start work this year to ensure access to a "Bairns' Hoose" by 2025: a child‑friendly environment providing trauma informed recovery, improving children's experience of the criminal justice system, and preventing them from being re‑traumatised.
- Ensure Scotland is a global leader in human rights through a new Human Rights Bill, which will include, as far as possible within devolved competence, incorporation of four UN human rights treaties into Scots Law. We will consult on the Bill in the coming year.
- Take forward a programme of work to embed equality, inclusion and human rights throughout Scotland – including £10 million to tackle isolation and loneliness over this parliamentary term, and £100 million over three years to support frontline services and focus on prevention of violence against women and girls from school onward. We will also work to tackle racism in our schools and communities, and refresh work to support refugees and asylum seekers.
- Bring forward the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill within the next year.
3. Net Zero Nation: ending Scotland's contribution to climate change, restoring nature and enhancing our climate resilience, in a just and fair way
We are living in a global climate and nature emergency, with climate change and nature loss the greatest threats facing people and the planet. This year, the eyes of the world will be on the COP26 Conference in Glasgow – one of the world's last chances to limit global warming to 1.5°C. As a nation, we need to advance determinedly towards net zero emissions: decarbonising our homes, buildings, and transport, and restoring and protecting our natural environment. We have an opportunity to do so in increasingly ambitious and innovative ways, building a greener, cleaner economy and enhancing our resilience to the impacts of climate change which cannot be avoided. And we will make this transition in a fair and just way that does not leave people and communities behind.
- Play our part to support a world‑changing deal at COP26 in Glasgow – this must move beyond rhetoric and target setting to demonstrate the ambition the world needs through funded actions. We will use our position as European co‑chair of the Under 2 Coalition to mobilise increased climate action from states and regions ahead of and during the summit.
- Implement the recommendations of the Just Transition Commission, to build a net zero economy that is fair for all, and in the coming year start to publish Just Transition plans for every sector and region.
- Take forward a ten‑year £500 million Just Transition Fund for the North East and Moray, supporting and accelerating the transition of the region as we reduce reliance on fossil fuels.
- Make offshore wind central to our delivery of emissions reduction targets through further ScotWind leasing rounds over this Parliament.
- Invest at least £1.8 billion over this Parliament in decarbonising homes and buildings – with the aim of converting at least 1 million homes and the equivalent of 50,000 non‑domestic buildings to low or zero‑emission heating by 2030.
- Bring about a green transport revolution – working towards our ambition to remove the majority of diesel buses from public transport by the end of 2023, reducing car kilometres by 20% by 2030, decarbonising Scotland's railways by 2035, and phasing out the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030.
- Subject to parliamentary approval, provide nationwide free bus travel for Scotland's young people aged under 22 from 31 January 2022, benefitting around 930,000 young people.
- Provide more active travel opportunities, reducing emissions and keeping people healthy – and increasing spending on active travel in 2024‑25 to at least £320m or 10% of the total transport budget. In our first 100 days we've already established 12 month pilot projects to deliver free bikes to school‑age children who cannot afford them to inform how we roll the scheme out nationally.
- Introduce a Natural Environment Bill, putting in place key legislative changes and statutory targets to restore and protect nature.
- Deliver a step change in marine protection, with new measures to make Scotland an international leader, including beginning this year the process of designating 10% of our seas as highly protected.
- Designate at least one new National Park by the end of this Parliament, provided relevant legal conditions can be met.
- Invest £500 million in our natural economy, including the expansion of the Nature Restoration Fund, creating local nature networks and increased forestry and peatland.
- Deliver at least three Carbon Neutral Islands by 2040, creating jobs, protecting our island environments from climate change, and contributing to the 2045 net zero commitment. By summer 2022, we will publish a plan setting out how this transition will be supported and achieved.
4. An Economy That Works For All Of Scotland's People And Place: putting sustainability, wellbeing and fair work at the heart of our economic transformation
The pandemic has taken a significant toll on people, businesses, and the economy, coming on top of the UK Government's EU Exit deal which has impacted Scotland's prosperity, particularly in some of our most important sectors. Countless people's employment prospects have been put at risk – particularly those most at risk from poverty already; many businesses have been brought to the brink and some still face an uncertain future; key sectors have been materially affected; and local economies, particularly in remote and rural areas, have felt the burden of restrictions. As we recover, we will seize the opportunity to design an economy that is greener and works for all of Scotland's people and places. We will align our recovery with our ambitions for a wellbeing economy, based on the principles of equality, sustainability, prosperity and resilience – focused on securing good and fair work for those most impacted by the pandemic and existing inequalities.
- Launch a 10‑year National Strategy for Economic Transformation in the autumn, alongside a new National Challenge Competition which will provide up to £50 million to projects with the greatest potential to transform Scotland's economy.
- Invest an additional £500 million to support the new, good and green jobs of the future, including upskilling and reskilling people to access those – including £20 million through the National Transition Training Fund, and up to a further £20 million for those affected by long‑term unemployment, this year.
- Make up for the opportunities lost to young people during the pandemic by delivering our Young Person's Guarantee – providing at least 24,000 new and enhanced opportunities.
- Help people get the skills they need to access the green jobs of the future, developing our Greens Jobs Workforce Academy and creating a skills guarantee for workers in carbon intensive sectors.
- Pilot a 4‑day working week, supported by a £10 million fund for participating companies, to better understand the likely impacts on workers, businesses and the economy.
- Progress our vision of Scotland as a leading Fair Work Nation by 2025: including making payment of the real living wage to all employees a condition of public sector grants by summer 2022.
- Promote a thriving rural economy, launching the new £20 million Rural Entrepreneur Fund in the coming financial year, providing grants of up to £10,000 to support the relocation or creation of 2000 new businesses.
- Support the recommendations of the Tourism Recovery Taskforce, including a £25 million portfolio of projects in 2021‑22, and consider the best approach to future years.
- Invest over £33 billion over the course of this Parliament in our National Infrastructure Mission, which includes £1 billion in the Scottish National Investment Bank, to create new jobs and markets and provide benefits across Scottish supply chains. In the coming year, we will commence work to consider the options for the creation of a new national infrastructure company, to manage and develop public assets for the public good.
- Set out the recommendations for future transport infrastructure investment by publishing the second Strategic Transport Projects Review by the end of this year.
- Help businesses to harness the economic potential of technology, backed by £100 million in investment across this Parliament. In our first 100 days, we have already started investing in the £25 million DigitalBoost Fund, to help SMEs get access to the right digital skills and equipment.
- Ensure a connected Scotland and tackle the digital divide, improving access to superfast and gigabit capable broadband and bringing 4G to rural and island communities, and extending the Connecting Scotland programme to get 300,000 households online by March 2026.
- Support more businesses to harness the potential of technology, continuing to implement the recommendations of the Logan review and providing £100 million to improve digital capabilities.
- Enhance Scotland's economy and international competitiveness though implementation of our Vision for Trade, Export Growth, Inward Investment and Global Capital Investment Plans.
- Take forward a Community Wealth Building Bill in this Parliament, helping create and protect jobs and enable greater community and third sector ownership of assets.
5. Living Better: supporting thriving, resilient and diverse communities
Even while the pandemic restricted our movements, it showed the strength and cohesion of many communities, with neighbours and neighbourhoods pulling together over the long months of lockdown. But the experience has been at best a mixed one: while some found comfort and enjoyment in their local areas, for others the restrictions locked them into homes and communities which did not meet the standards we should expect. As we recover from the pandemic, we will support the local communities, urban and rural, that are the building blocks of our nation: delivering new, green affordable homes, tackling homelessness and rough sleeping, supporting inclusive communities and accelerating our transition to net zero by ensuring people have access to the services they need in their own neighbourhoods, whilst reforming the justice system to keep our communities safe.
- Deliver 110,000 affordable homes across Scotland by 2032, with at least 70% in the social rented sector and 10% in our remote, rural and island communities supported by a Remote, Rural & Islands Action Plan.
- Invest an additional £50 million to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping, taking forward our Ending Homelessness Together action plan – including specific work to scale up Housing First more rapidly; end the use of communal night shelters; advance legislative protections for people experiencing domestic abuse; and explore alternative ways to reduce migrant homelessness.
- Improve standards and rights across all housing tenures – publishing a new Rented Sector Strategy by the end of the year and bringing forward legislation to implement an effective system of rent controls before the end of this Parliament.
- Revitalise local communities through development of 20‑minute neighbourhoods, investment in town centres and a new focus on place – improving local services and infrastructure, and aiding our ambition to 'live well locally' and achieve a 20% reduction in car kilometres driven by 2030. We will also roll out 20 mph speed limits on appropriate roads in built‑up areas by 2025.
- Start rolling out the £325 million Place Based Investment Programme, supporting community led regeneration, complemented by delivery of our new £50 million low carbon Vacant & Derelict Land Investment Programme.
- Make sure our communities are well connected, investing in new and better public transport links and keeping ferry travel affordable for our islands.
- Bring ScotRail services into the public sector.
- Transform the way in which justice services are delivered – ensuring children's rights are protected and upheld, putting the voices of victims and a trauma‑informed approach at the heart of Scottish justice, and moving away from the use of custody for those who don't pose a risk of serious harm, while protecting the police resource budget in real terms for the entirety of the Parliament.
- Develop and take forward a new Land Reform Bill, with measures to address the concentration of land ownership in Scotland, including a public interest test. We will double the Scottish Land Fund by the end of the Parliament, supporting community ownership projects across the country.
6 Scotland In The World: championing democratic principles, at home and abroad
The pandemic has necessarily changed the way we engage with our international neighbours. But it has also reminded us that the world we live in is fundamentally interconnected, and that we need to work internationally to resolve global problems, whether COVID‑19 or the climate crisis. Scotland will retain and enhance an outward looking, international focus, acting as a good global citizen and demonstrating our commitment to democracy, fairness and human rights. We will retain and showcase our distinctive national identity on the world stage, supporting the recovery of Scotland's culture and tourism sectors. We will maintain time‑tested friendships with our European neighbours in the aftermath of EU Exit, and seek to re‑join the European Union as soon as we can.
- From April 2022, start to increase our International Development Fund from £10 million to £15 million and maintain that increase in line with inflation throughout the term of this Parliament.
- Continue to support our African partner countries with their response to COVID-19 through additional supplies of medical equipment and products this year, including vital PPE through the NHS Scotland Global Citizenship Programme.
- Sustain our £1 million per year Humanitarian Emergency Fund, which this year includes funding to provide life‑saving assistance for the crisis in Afghanistan.
- Support our internationally recognised culture sector with the funding needed to make a strong recovery from COVID‑19. Already within our first 100 days we have made £25 million available to help creative and performance organisations catch up and recover from COVID‑19.
- Provide a one‑off fund of up to £1.25 million through the Scottish Libraries and Information Council to help libraries re‑open and stay open, particularly in areas of deprivation.
- Showcase Scotland internationally through our Brand Scotland collaboration and campaigns, raising Scotland's international profile, and hosting major events like the inaugural UCI Cycling World Championships in 2023.
- Strengthen our diplomatic ties and international presence – establishing new offices in Copenhagen and Warsaw; reviewing approaches to future policy and economic engagement to enhance Scotland's global reach and presence; and, providing additional resources to Screen Scotland to help facilitate year‑round engagement between the Scottish and international film & television industries.
- Reconstitute a Ministerial working group on Policy Coherence for Sustainable Development to lead on our ambition to align domestic policy objectives and activity with our international development objectives.
- Prepare to give the people of Scotland a fully informed choice on independence.
Putting equality, inclusion and human rights at the heart of our approach
We are clear that equality, inclusion and human rights should underpin decision‑making and delivery across the work of government and the wider public sector in Scotland. We are committed to promoting equality and tackling discrimination, furthering Scotland's position as a global leader in human rights, ensuring that all of Scotland's people, including those who share protected characteristics, are able to fulfil their potential and achieve the outcomes in the National Performance Framework and working with communities to ensure that everyone feels safe, respected and included in the life of Scotland.
This Programme for Government recognises that the impacts of COVID‑19 have been and will continue to be experienced disproportionally by different groups, including women, those from Minority Ethnic communities, older people and disabled people. So, building on learning from those COVID‑19 impacts and responses as well as our work over the past decade to mainstream and embed equality and human rights, we will continue to seek to strengthen this in Scottish Government policy‑making as a single joint endeavour. We are working across different groups to promote equality, recognising intersectional inequality, drawing from the expertise of key stakeholders, and in doing so being guided by the recommendations of national forums such as the First Minister's National Advisory Council on Women and Girls, the National Taskforce for Human Rights Leadership and the Expert Group on Covid‑19 and Ethnicity. Ensuring that we truly embed equality, inclusion and human rights across the work of government and the wider public sector will be critical in helping Scotland to build back better in a way that targets our efforts towards those who have been disproportionately affected.