Publication - Strategy/plan

A Fairer, Greener Scotland: Programme for Government 2021-22

Published: 7 Sep 2021

The Programme for Government sets out the actions we will take in the coming year and beyond. It includes the legislative programme for this parliamentary year.

A Fairer, Greener Scotland: Programme for Government 2021-22
Chapter 5: Living Better

Chapter 5: Living Better

To support thriving, resilient and diverse communities, within the next 12 months we will:

  • Provide £12 million to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping, including £8 million for local authorities to support rapid rehousing plans and scale up the Housing First approach nationally.
  • Publish and consult on a new Rented Sector Strategy, delivering a new deal for tenants.
  • Run pilots which will inform a national rollout to provide free bikes for school age children who cannot afford one.
  • Introduce low emissions zones in four of Scotland's cities – setting vehicle emissions limits for entry to certain road spaces, and restricting access for the most polluting vehicles.
  • Produce a route map to reduce the use of cars – measured as 'car kilometres' – by 20% by 2030.
  • Bring ScotRail into the public sector, and legislate for free bus travel for under‑22's.
  • Produce a new National Community Justice Strategy, supporting plans to invest in community justice services, including diversion from prosecution, and to promote alternatives to prison.
  • Launch a new funding programme to provide practical and emotional support to victims, survivors and witnesses of crime across Scotland.

During the pandemic, most of us have been anchored more locally than ever before, and our homes and communities have in turn become even more important. But this has been a mixed experience for many people, not least those who still live in sub‑standard accommodation and with a lack of greenspace. As Scotland rebuilds from the pandemic, we will work to ensure that our communities deliver a better standard of living than they did before: safer, more equal, greener and better‑connected.

Within our communities, we will continue with significant improvements to the housing sector – delivering more affordable homes, strengthening tenants' rights, and eliminating rough sleeping. We will support local communities to become greener, improving local services and infrastructure. And we will invest in our public transport system, active travel infrastructure and roads, connecting communities to the goods and services we need and improving the lives of the people of Scotland. We will also work to increase the security of our communities.

A Safe, Warm Place to Call Home

Housing to 2040 – Scotland's first long‑term housing strategy – sets out our ambitions for how we want the housing and communities of the future to be, with actions on how to achieve that. We will now deliver on these ambitions – and ensuring there is a sufficient supply of affordable homes is a fundamental part of that.

We will deliver 110,000 energy efficient, affordable homes by 2032 – at least 70% of which will be in the social rented sector and 10% in our remote, rural and island communities. The long‑term target will support about £18 billion in total investment and up to 15,000 jobs a year, and contribute to Scotland becoming a net zero nation through modern, energy efficient housing. This commitment starts now.

To ensure this investment delivers benefits across Scotland, we will develop a Remote, Rural & Islands Housing action plan, to meet the housing needs of, and retain and attract people to, those communities, backed by at least £45 million as part of our overall affordable housing supply programme funding in this parliamentary session.

Our significant investment in heat decarbonisation will help ensure homeowners, landlords and tenants can access the support they need to adapt our homes to secure the necessary emissions reductions. We are developing regulations to require new buildings where a building warrant is applied for from 2024 to use zero emissions heating – ensuring that where there is an installed heating system it must produce zero direct greenhouse gas emissions at the point of use. We will also review energy standards within current building regulations to deliver further improvement in energy efficiency and emissions reductions in new buildings, helping make homes more affordable to heat and tackling fuel poverty – with our Fuel Poverty Strategy to be published by the end of the year.

All home and building upgrades – at the point of sale, change of tenancy, and refurbishment – will be required to meet at least EPC C standards or equivalent from 2025 onwards. And all homes will need to be upgraded by 2033 to ensure we meet our climate targets. We will undertake consultation on this next year, to ensure a fair approach and avoid unintended consequences, and provide support through an upscaled grants and an advisory service. Most immediately, we will end public subsidies for oil and LPG boilers.

We will lead by example, with all new homes delivered by registered social landlords and local authorities to be zero emission homes by 2026. This year, we have launched a £30 million call for green heating and energy efficiency projects in social housing through the Social Housing Net Zero Heat Fund – supporting projects that can accelerate the deployment of low carbon heat in existing social housing. We will keep the fund open with up to £100 million available over the course of this Parliament. The short‑life Zero Emissions Social Housing Task Force has recently provided a set of recommendations which we will consider, setting out the next steps for the sector, in partnership with local and national government, the private and third sectors, and those who live in social housing.

The Scottish Government firmly believes that everyone in Scotland should have access to decent, permanent accommodation. Communities and national and local governments worked together during the pandemic to slash the numbers of people sleeping rough to a record low, and tenancy protections meant that far fewer people were made homeless compared to previous years. We will build on this in our mission to end homelessness and rough sleeping, and catch back up where time has been lost to the pandemic, to give people a stable base from which to live their lives.

We will invest £50 million over the course of this Parliament in a new Ending Homelessness Together Fund, with £12 million in 2021‑22, across a range of projects, including £8 million for local authorities to support rapid rehousing plans and efforts to eradicate rough sleeping. Funding for rapid rehousing will also support the scaling up of Housing First, so that more people with complex needs can access mainstream housing and wraparound support. We will expand it beyond the current six pathfinder areas – Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Stirling, with 540 tenancies provided to date – and ensure delivery across Scotland, supported by the development of a national framework on Housing First, and the introduction of quarterly monitoring.

We will maintain the good work seen during last winter, where we helped phase out night shelters and supported the introduction of rapid rehousing welcome centres in Edinburgh and Glasgow. These offer hotel room accommodation and provide under‑one‑roof and multi‑agency assessment for people at the sharpest end of homelessness. We are working closely with local authorities and third sector partners to ensure that there is no return to dormitory style night shelters in the future. And we will strengthen existing homelessness prevention legislation and introduce new duties on public bodies to ask people about their housing situation and take action if needed, supporting the development of a culture of early intervention, consulting later this year. We will also lead work over the next three years to identify accommodation pathways for those with No Recourse to Public Funds.

The rental sector has grown substantially in recent years, and ensuring that everyone has a safe warm place to call home means providing everyone with the greatest rights and security regardless of tenure. Already within our first 100 days, the Scottish Government has begun development of a new Draft Rented Sector Strategy to promote affordable tenancies and safeguard tenants from unfair rent increases. We will publish the new strategy, focusing on delivering a new deal for tenants, before the end of the year, and consult on it next year. It will focus on ensuring outcomes and protections are the same for all tenants, no matter their tenure, and include plans to enhance and increase tenants' rights, giving them greater flexibility to decorate their home and keep pets and more protection from evictions over the winter, and increasing the penalties and compensation for illegal evictions.

The strategy will also aim to ensure rents are affordable through an effective national system of rent controls, with an appropriate mechanism to allow local authorities to introduce local measures that will be consulted on, and delivering a rent guarantor for estranged young people.

This ambitious transformative plan requires a number of legislative changes over the next few years that will begin with the introduction of a new Housing Bill in Year 2 of this Parliament, and further legislation to implement rent controls, and a new regulator, before the end of this Parliament.

To be truly called a home, accommodation needs to meet the needs of the communities living in it. With COSLA, we are committed to more and better Gypsy/Traveller accommodation, to allow Gypsy/Travellers to enjoy their right to an adequate home, while also maintaining cultural traditions. We have introduced a new £20 million Gypsy/Traveller Accommodation Fund, supporting local authorities to establish model sites. Funding proposals are currently being assessed, with the first projects expected to start before the end of 2021‑22.

To provide certainty to taxpayers, we will maintain the current rates and bands for residential Land Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) for the full parliamentary term. The First Time Buyer relief will also remain in place, in effect raising the nil rate band to £175,000 and resulting in a reduction of tax of up to £600. We will also explore ways in which we can provide further support for housing cooperatives, including potentially through LBTT relief. We will also undertake a review of the Land and Buildings Transaction Tax Additional Dwelling Supplement, and consider the impact of the tax on homes in our remote and rural communities.

We have already frozen Council Tax for this financial year, and over this Parliament we will legislate to exempt young people from it until they reach the age of 22. We are committed to reforming Council Tax to make it fairer, working with the Scottish Green Party and COSLA to oversee the development of effective deliberative engagement on sources of local government funding, including Council Tax, that will culminate in a Citizens' Assembly.

The memory of the Grenfell fire continues to haunt the whole of the UK. People living in flats with potentially unsafe cladding systems are understandably worried, both about their safety and about the financial cost to them of rectifying the issues. Within our first 100 days, the Scottish Government has started cladding safety assessments to support these home owners. By the end of this Parliament, we will create an inventory of cladding safety assessments and use the Cladding Remediation Fund to provide a financial contribution to remediation and/or mitigation measures in buildings identified as being at most risk.

Living Locally & Connecting Communities

During the pandemic we have seen the power of communities working together to mobilise and support one another. We will build on what we have learned by supporting the organisations at the heart of communities to recover rapidly from the pandemic, and by ensuring we have good infrastructure in place to enable people to access the goods and services they need and for businesses to thrive.

Key to the resilience of our communities has been the work of Scotland's third sector. Building on the learning from the pandemic we will use our Strengthening Collaboration commitment with SCVO and COSLA to progress further a multi‑year funding model. We will work with Third Sector Interfaces, who act as a single point of access for support and advice for third sector organisations in their local area, to strengthen their influence, and revise their funding formula to give more support to the areas of highest deprivation. We will bring forward legislation to improve Charity Law, strengthening the legal and regulatory framework and enhancing public trust in this vital sector.

Starting from April 2023, we will also provide up to £16 million for each of the next two financial years in funding for third sector organisations which work with children, families and adult learners, to ensure that sustained, high quality support is available to vulnerable groups.

We will also support the social enterprise sector as it works to tackle pressing social issues including homelessness and climate change – investing £5 million over three years to help community organisations recover from the pandemic, give every child the opportunity to engage with a social enterprise during their time at school, and promote international social enterprises in emerging markets like Africa and South East Asia.

Being grounded in our neighbourhoods has pressed home the importance to our health, wellbeing and prosperity of ensuring that those homes are well‑connected and well‑serviced. Over the course of this Parliament, we will deliver on our vision for "20‑minute neighbourhoods": places where people can have their needs met locally within a 20‑minute walk from their homes, reducing emissions and encouraging active travel. Our fourth National Planning Framework will ensure that all future planning decisions support meeting this ambition, and in September we will launch a new 'Our Place' website. This will provide information, tools and resources to help support the development of places and services that improve our health, prosperity, and quality of life, and protect our environment. We are continuing to deliver the Work Local Challenge Programme, working with partners including the Construction Scotland Innovation Centre and Scottish Futures Trust on innovation and deployment of local work hubs and office space solutions to enhance workplace choices.

From this year, we are delivering our Place Based Investment programme, backed with £325 million over the next five years. This will provide financial support and a focus for government, local authority and other sectors to facilitate, coordinate and deliver place based collaboration and action. Through repurposing of land and buildings, the investment will revitalise town centres, provide new space for local businesses and jobs, and support the resilience and wellbeing of communities across Scotland. The programme of investment includes continued delivery of the Regeneration Capital Grant Fund, our ongoing sponsorship of Clyde Gateway, funding that is being allocated directly to Scotland's local authorities and providing support to communities to shape local action to accelerate our shared ambitions for place, and 20‑minute neighbourhoods. Complementing this, we are also now rolling out our new £50 million low carbon Vacant & Derelict Land Investment Programme over the next five years, supporting ambitious local approaches to unblocking the reuse of persistent vacant and derelict land to deliver new green infrastructure, supporting a just transition to net zero.

Key to the resilience of communities has been the action taken by communities themselves. We will build on this to ensure that resilience can be sustained as part of our recovery and renewal through our Empowering Communities Programme. The programme provides support to the hundreds of community anchor organisations across the country, enabling communities to take more control and make a difference in tackling inequalities on their own terms, shaping their own futures.

Safe and reliable active travel options will be vital to securing our 20‑minute neighbourhood ambitions, and our commitment to be a net zero nation – creating safe, clean, and interlinked communities, and helping reduce emissions in our villages, towns and cities. We will make a generational shift in funding over this Parliament to ensure that at least £320 million or 10% of the total transport budget goes on active travel by 2024‑25 – making it more attractive for people to walk, wheel and cycle.

We've already started to make good on that commitment: in this government's first 100 days, we have established six pilot schemes to provide free bikes for school age children who cannot afford one, with more to follow later in the autumn, which will inform a national rollout. These pilots will run for up to 12 months, testing out different approaches and delivery models to understand how best we can give children access to bikes. In addition, we will use the increased budget for active travel to deliver a range of projects, including:

  • A new Cycling Framework for Active Travel – to be published in 2022
  • Establishing an active freeway network for Scotland, comprising local networks within towns and cities and connecting settlements and major destinations with high quality, safe routes
  • Maintaining the Scotland Cycle Repair Scheme, helping get old bikes out of storage and back onto our roads, as well as keeping well‑used bikes pedalling smoothly and safely
  • Increasing the Cycling, Walking and Safer Routes grant for active travel infrastructure on local roads
  • Investment in the Sustrans 30 year National Cycle Network Plan

In delivering our ambitions for more active travel across our communities, it is vital that we have a safe network which people of all ages and abilities can use. We will work with local authorities to encourage more Safe to School initiatives, with the aim of ensuring every child who lives within two miles of school is able to walk or wheel safely. We will ensure all appropriate roads in built‑up areas have a safer speed limit of 20 mph by 2025, forming a task group to plan the most effective route for implementation.

Taken together, our investment in transport decarbonisation and improvements, and active travel, will help drive forward our commitment to reduce the use of cars – measured as 'car kilometres' – by 20% by 2030, securing progress to net zero, improving people's wellbeing through increased active travel, and contributing to safer, cleaner and healthier communities.

We will produce a route map by the end of 2021 to set out how we intend to achieve this, and publish an analysis of options to assess and identify demand management options, locally and nationally, to encourage the use of active travel and public transport as an alternative to cars. A key milestone will be the introduction of low emission zones in four of Scotland's cities by the end of May 2022 – setting a vehicle emissions limit for entry to certain road spaces, thereby restricting access for the most polluting vehicles. We will also progress our ongoing review of transport governance to align with climate and traffic reduction targets and deliver our active travel goals.

Where people need to travel, we will work to make our public transport systems available, safe and affordable for users; reliable, sustainable and a strong alternative to private car; and integrated, fair and financially sustainable.

Within the government's first 100 days, we have introduced legislation for free bus travel for people aged under 22. We will now go further, and commission a Fair Fares Review of the discounts and concessionary schemes which are available on all transport modes, and consider options against a background where the costs of car travel are declining and public transport costs are increasing. To support services which meet local needs, we will also introduce a Community Bus Fund, supporting local transport authorities to improve local public transport in their areas. The fund will support local transport authorities to explore the full range of options set out in the Transport (Scotland) Act 2019, including municipal bus services.

We have also begun the process of bringing ScotRail into public ownership and control, aiming for this to be complete from the end of March 2022, when the current franchise agreement is expected to end.

We will make improvements to rail connections across the country, including improving connections to Glasgow on the South Western line; opening Dalcross railway station, and a fully accessible relocated Hairmyres station; and reopening Fife's Levenmouth rail link. We also want to see improved rail connections to and from Scotland across the UK and will press the UK Government to commit to faster rail routes between Scotland and England and establish connections between the Caledonian Sleeper service and the Eurostar.

Under specific circumstances, and balanced with our climate change responsibilities, we recognise the need to address our road infrastructure – in many instances it is the only link remote and rural communities have to vital services, ensuring they can feel the benefits of inclusive growth.

During this Parliament, new roads projects will normally only be taken forward where they reduce the maintenance backlog, address road safety concerns or adapt the network to deal with the impacts of climate change or benefit communities such as by bypassing settlements, and we will not build road infrastructure to cater for forecast unconstrained increases in traffic volumes.

We will, however, continue to take forward work on the current roads programme, including design work on upgrading the A82 between Tarbet and Inverarnan. We will also respond to landslides at the Rest and Be Thankful on the A83 by developing a long‑term, resilient and sustainable solution for this transport corridor, with work to establish it starting as soon as possible.

In 2021‑22 we will progress the dualling of the A9. The section between Luncarty and Pass of Birnam fully opened to traffic on 28 August 2021, and we will award the construction contract for the section between Tomatin and Moy in 2022 along with identifying a preferred route option at Birnam and Dunkeld.

We will take forward a transport enhancements programme on the A96 corridor that improves connectivity between surrounding towns, tackles congestion and addresses safety and environmental issues, including dualling from Inverness to Nairn; bypassing of Nairn, Keith, Elgin and Inverurie accompanied by measures to remove through traffic from the bypassed town centres; targeted road safety improvements where needed, for example between Fochabers and Huntly and from Inverurie to Aberdeen; and, the development of an A96 "Electric Highway". Current plans are to fully dual the A96 from Inverness to Aberdeen; however, we will undertake a transparent, evidence‑based review of that, to include a climate compatibility assessment to assess direct and indirect impacts on the climate and the environment, reporting by the end of 2022.

We will also develop a programme of wider enhanced public transport improvements in North East Scotland, including work to improve the resilience, reliability and efficiency of the Aberdeen to Inverness rail corridor, alongside our commitment to decarbonise the rail network, to make it more competitive with road and encourage modal shift for passengers and freight; work with Nestrans, Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Councils on the feasibility of a mass rapid transit system, and a rail link between Dyce and Ellon and further north to Peterhead and Fraserburgh; and a review the A96 corridor with a view to implementing appropriate bus priority measures.

To deliver on our ambitions for island and rural communities, it is vital that they have the necessary connectivity – linking them appropriately with the whole country, and ensuring they can access the same services and opportunities as their neighbours on the mainland. This year we have provided an increase of £7.7 million in grant support for interisland ferries and are committed to maintaining the Road Equivalent Tariff on all current island ferry routes – helping make ferry travel more affordable and more accessible, and enhancing island economies. Over the coming year, we will also prepare the Islands Connectivity Plan (ICP) to be published by the end of 2022, developing proposals to support delivery of the National Islands Plan. We will assess the model of delivery of ferry services to deliver accountability, transparency and good outcomes for communities.

Across the next two years we will also provide £30 million of funding for the design and construction of replacement, or major maintenance, of Lifeline Local Authority bridges. And through the development of the Strategic Transport Review 2, to be concluded by the end of 2021, we will assess the evidence base for fixed links to islands and remote communities.

As recognised in Phase 1 of our second Strategic Transport Projects Review, one of the major barriers to public transport use has been connectivity, and a lack of convenient end‑to‑end travel options. We seek to align timetables where possible – however, establishing further transport integration across modes at key ferry terminals will benefit rural and island communities and visitors alike. To support integrated journeys at ferry terminals, we will identify locations and options for intervention, informing the Islands Connectivity Plan.

Delivering Safer Communities

Our police and emergency services have been our mainstay during the pandemic: keeping us safe, and taking on the new, difficult task of making sure that people were abiding by the evolving restrictions. We will continue to protect the police resource budget in real terms for the entirety of this Parliament – providing a stable basis from which to improve service delivery and enhance the safety and security of communities across Scotland. We will also support the modernisation of our fire and rescue service, investing to allow it to expand its work on fire prevention and fire safety with vulnerable households, and improve firefighters' emergency medical response capability, in partnership with the Scottish Ambulance Service.

In creating safer communities, the Scottish Government believes that imprisonment is often inherently damaging, particularly when used for less serious offences or for short periods of time. Removing people from their homes, jobs, families and neighbourhoods – the very things that reduce reoffending – should only be contemplated where absolutely necessary. As a progressive and humane society, we should be working towards using prison only for those who pose a risk of serious harm. To support that long‑term aim, we will introduce legislation in this parliamentary term to change the way that imprisonment is used, with consultation on initial proposals relating to bail and release from custody law this autumn.

This will be underpinned by investment in a substantial expansion of community justice services supporting diversion from prosecution, alternatives to remand and community sentencing, which evidence shows is more effective at reducing reoffending. We will develop and launch a new National Community Justice Strategy next spring, setting out clear aims with an emphasis on early intervention and encouraging a further shift away from the use of custody. Over the next two years, we will continue work to ensure that restorative justice services – which support constructive dialogue between offenders and those affected by their offence – are widely available across Scotland by 2023.

Where imprisonment is the only safe recourse, we will modernise Scotland's prison estate, investing over £500 million over this Parliament. In 2022, we will deliver a new model for female custody, with a new Women's National Facility at HMP Cornton Vale supplemented by two Community Custody Units in Glasgow and Dundee. By 2026, we will also replace HMP Barlinnie and HMP Inverness with two new modern prisons for adult males, HMP Glasgow and HMP Highland. We will introduce a new health and wellbeing strategy to address health inequality among prisoners and make use of digital solutions like video conferencing, and maintain funding for Prison Visitor Centres, supporting, advising and advocating for families with loved ones in prison.

We will also consider new legislation to prevent harm in our communities. By the end of this parliamentary year, we will bring forward a Bill to tighten the law around the sale and use of fireworks and the misuse of pyrotechnics. We will also review the Dangerous Dogs Act to inform future policy and legislative changes to tackle irresponsible dog ownership. This will be coupled with better training and resources for dog wardens from this year on, and delivery of a national database by the end of 2021, for rollout to local authorities in 2022, to bring together information on dog‑control notices served by local authorities. And we will begin the development of an online reporting system – a 1‑year pilot project enabling anyone to upload camera footage of dangerous driving.

Empowering & Protecting Victims of Crime through Improving Services

While we have seen reductions in crimes recorded across most local authorities during the pandemic, we need to build on the progress that has been made and redouble our efforts to protect and empower victims of crime. This year, we will launch a new funding programme to provide practical and emotional support to victims, survivors and witnesses of crime across Scotland.

We will ensure that victims of crime are treated with kindness and sensitivity throughout their interaction with the justice system, recognising the trauma that many have experienced. We will introduce a new framework, specific to the justice system, to give staff the knowledge and skills they need to understand and adopt a trauma‑informed approach, helping them to support victims more compassionately. We will also prepare for the necessary legislative process to appoint a Victims' Commissioner, who will provide an independent voice for victims, champion their views and encourage policy makers and criminal justice agencies to put victims' rights at the heart of justice.

It takes immense courage for someone to come forward and make a complaint about a sexual crime committed against them – it is our responsibility to ensure that victims who do come forward are not re‑traumatised all over again through their interaction with the justice system. Following consultation on the detailed arrangements, we will introduce legislation to protect the anonymity of all complainers of sexual crimes under Scots law. And we will give serious consideration to the recommendations of the Dorrian Review, including the introduction of specialist courts, and allowing victims to pre‑record their evidence.

Domestic abuse is a crime and it is appalling that it has increased during the COVID‑19 restrictions – there is no place for it in society. That is why, as part of our 100 days commitments, we have already invested an additional £5 million in supporting frontline organisations which tackle domestic abuse and sexual violence to deal with the additional pressures that have occurred during the pandemic. Building on that, and starting this year, we will invest over £100 million to support frontline services and focus on prevention of violence against women and girls from school onward over the next three years. That figure includes the enhanced Delivering Equally Safe Fund, which we have increased by £12 million to £38 million, providing over £28 million to support frontline services, and £2 million for prevention over the next two years.

We will also commission an independent review to establish positive practice and further areas for improvement to tackle gender based violence and sexual abuse in educational settings. In addition, we will progress work to tackle violence against men and boys, investing in services which support male survivors of rape and domestic abuse.

We will remain committed to investing in interventions which provide evidence of being able to change the attitudes of offenders – expanding. We will expand the availability of the Caledonian System, and increasing our investment to £10 million over the next two years. This is an internationally recognised behavioural change programme for perpetrators of domestic abuse which involves working with the whole family to reduce the risk of harm to women and children. We will progress work over the next two years to support the national rollout of the system, with the aim of making it available to all 32 Scottish local authorities by the end of the parliamentary term.

Misogyny fuels violence against women and girls, and allows harmful societal norms and behaviours to persist within our society. The Working Group on Misogyny and Criminal Justice in Scotland is expected to report in February next year. Should the working group recommend a specific criminal offence to tackle misogynistic conduct, the Scottish Government will consider and act swiftly on its advice. We will also undertake to develop a model for Scotland which effectively tackles and challenges men's demand for prostitution.

Reforming the Justice System to Make Scotland Fairer, Safer & More Equal

We are proud of Scotland's justice system and our distinctive Scots law. We will build on their foundations to bring in targeted reforms aimed at making Scottish justice still stronger and better. During this year, we will launch a public consultation on the three verdict system and whether the not‑proven verdict should be abolished. We will also consider reform of the corroboration rule, engaging with justice partners, opposition parties and people with direct experience of the criminal justice system to develop a shared understanding of the evolving legal position, and the implications and potential unintended consequences of corroboration reform, including in relation to sexual crimes.

The Scottish Government's law officers, amongst other roles, act as the head of the independent prosecution service and as members of the Scottish Government. We will consult on whether the prosecution and government functions of the law officers should be separated.

We have already begun to address the backlog of court cases that accumulated during the pandemic, providing £50 million this year to help drive forward recovery. We will review how offending is dealt with by the summary justice process, to make access to justice as efficient and effective as possible. We will engage with both legal professionals and victim support organisations to review the Legal Aid system, and will introduce a Legal Aid Reform Bill in this Parliament, ensuring that the system is flexible, easy to access and meets the needs of those who use it.

And we will also launch a public consultation on reform of legal services regulation, expected later in 2021, to consider what changes may be required to the statutory framework to protect consumer interests and promote a flourishing legal sector.

Access to the courts is an important part of upholding individual rights and the rule of law; but there are times when other non‑litigious means of resolving disputes are preferable, notably in non‑criminal proceedings. The Scottish Government will work with stakeholders to expand the availability of mediation and arbitration services within the civil justice system. The Scottish Government is working with stakeholders, and will consult on future changes as appropriate, to give people access to flexible, affordable and less stressful means of settling disputes, benefitting them and saving time in courts.

To safeguard the independence and reputation of the judiciary, we will begin work on establishing a register of interests of its members to increase public confidence and improve transparency.

Scotland's police officers work hard every day to keep their communities safe, and have shown a strong, rights‑based approach to compliance during the pandemic. We will work to build on that model of policing by consent. To better understand and service the needs of our communities, we will support Police Scotland and wider partners to improve the diversity of their workforce and to enhance the quality of data across the justice system.

We will support Police Scotland and wider partners to build on improvement work in response to Dame Elish Angiolini's review. We intend to accept and implement the majority of Dame Elish's findings following consultation in 2022. This will include bringing forward a Bill and Regulations to promote fairness and transparency and strengthen public confidence in our police.

We want Scotland's police force to benefit from and take advantage of new technologies, such as body‑worn video, but to do so in a controlled way that commands public confidence. The Independent Advisory Group on Emerging Technologies will report to Ministers in 2022, recommending changes that should be made to existing legislative frameworks and policing practices: we will respond to its findings and act to ensure there is robust scrutiny and oversight where new technology is adopted.

We will also address the disproportionate consequences and stigma suffered by many miners as a result of their participation in the 1984‑85 strike. We will bring forward a Miners' Strike Pardon Bill, and implement the pardon as soon as practicable should it become law – restoring the good name of the miners, and bringing comfort to their friends and families, and to former mining communities.

We will also support and resource the Sheku Bayoh Public Inquiry in its thorough scrutiny of the circumstances of his tragic death.


Contact

Email: PfG@gov.scot