Programme for Government 2021 to 2022

Focuses on action to create a fairer, greener Scotland.

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Chapter 6: Scotland in the World

To promote democratic participation at home and abroad, and increase our international standing, within the next 12 months we will:

  • Provide a £1.25 million fund to help libraries stay open, particularly in areas of deprivation.
  • Develop and submit a joint proposal with COSLA to the UK Government to take forward a Rural Visa pilot.
  • Start to increase our International Development Fund from £10 million to £15 million.
  • Provide £500,000 to help support local authorities to accommodate unaccompanied asylum seeking children arriving in Scotland.
  • Open a new Scottish Government Office in Copenhagen, increasing Scotland's economic and cultural visibility.
  • Support a new £500,000 fund for local organisations in international development partner countries to take forward work to ensure women and girls are safe, equal and respected.
  • Expand our Residential Fellowship Programme to train women to take on leadership roles in mitigating the effects of climate change.

While the pandemic feels like it has cut us off from the world, it has also reaffirmed how inextricably connected we are to the rest of the globe. Scotland is a proudly internationalist nation and we will embrace the opportunities of international connection and cooperation, acting as a good global citizen to champion our values‑based approach on the world stage, starting at home by ensuring that we are a truly participatory democracy.

We will welcome the world to Scotland – funding the reinvigoration of our culture industries, and using the levers at our disposal to encourage people from all nations to stay in, move to and feel they belong in Scotland – while pressing the UK Government to adopt a humane approach to the reserved issues of migration and asylum. With a view to re‑joining the EU as soon as we are able to, we will preserve Scotland's good relations with the EU and implement our commitment to align with EU standards and laws and we will affirm the need for international cooperation to solve global issues.

Standing up for democracy

Our democratic values are at the core of our freedom and identity as a nation, and we will work to ensure that the democratic rights of the people of Scotland are fostered and protected. We will bring forward legislation on electoral reform, to be in force before the next Scottish Parliament elections, that will enable more people to stand as candidates at Scottish Parliament and local government elections and improve the accessibility of elections, with a particular focus on people with sight‑loss. We will also work to increase voter registration and active participation in elections by under‑represented groups, including non‑UK citizens and young people. And we will continue investment in our Access to Elected Office Fund, providing financial support for disabled people seeking selection to overcome the practical barriers they face.

A new but core feature of Scotland's participatory democracy is the use of Citizens' Assemblies – bringing together people to generate new ideas, adding fairness and equality to the policy‑making process, and improving trust between government and the people it serves. The first Citizens' Assembly produced major recommendations covering how decisions are taken, including a call for further use of Citizens' Assemblies. This Programme for Government sets out action in areas identified by the Assembly, including commitments to the Scottish National Health Service, young people and the environment; a full response will be published in the autumn. An expert group will report by the autumn with recommendations to Ministers on institutionalising inclusive participatory democracy across Scotland's democratic processes, including future governance and question setting for Citizens' Assemblies.

We will establish a working group with representation from the Scottish Green Party, and engagement with COSLA, to oversee the development of effective deliberative engagement on sources of local government funding, including Council Tax, that culminate in a Citizens' Assembly. The Assembly will be established and completed in this Parliament, with a response to its recommendations debated and agreed within 6 months of being provided. We will also introduce a brand new Citizens' Assembly for under 16's, so that the generation who will grow up with the consequences of the decisions we take now can be involved in making them. We will also consider a new approach to ensuring the interests of future generations are taken into account in decisions made today, through a Future Generations Commission.

We will ensure the long‑term sustainability and resilience of public interest journalism in Scotland. We will listen and respond to the recommendations of the Public Interest Journalism Working Group, due this summer, to ensure journalism in Scotland remains transparent and strong, as a key element of Scottish democracy.

Strengthening our world‑class culture offer

Scotland has a diverse and world‑class cultural scene and rich heritage of which we can all be proud. It is recognised globally, and enjoyed by an international audience, but closer to home it has the power to inspire, enrich and transform people's lives and our communities. While the pandemic has clearly taken a significant toll on the sector, we will support it to recover and flourish and ensure it can continue to enrich our lives, put Scotland on the world stage with the development of a Cultural Diplomacy Strategy, and contribute to our own sense of nation and place. The Scottish Government will revise its Creative Industries Policy Statement to articulate its priorities for the future development of the creative industries, in light of the impacts of EU Exit, the COVID‑19 pandemic, and our ambition to build a greener and fairer future.

Within our first 100 days, we have made £25 million available to help creative and performance organisations catch back up and recover, despite the fact that only £9 million of culture consequentials has been confirmed so far from the UK Government. We will continue to press the UK Government to deliver the consequentials in full, and will pass on that vital funding in full to the sector once we receive it.

To support and encourage artists to collaborate as the sector recovers, we will look to evaluate and continue to invest in Culture Collective. We will also invest in much‑needed stability for the cultural organisations that we provide regular funding for, by agreeing 3‑year funding settlements, to allow them to plan for a sustainable recovery. And we will support the V&A Dundee to become a National Centre for Design, and to lead and inspire the contribution of design to our economic recovery.

Participation in cultural and creative activities helps young people grow confidently as citizens and, more than ever, plays an important role in fostering wellbeing and supporting attainment. We will continue our support for our Youth Music Initiative, expanding it to other art forms, and our annual funding for Sistema Scotland's 'Big Noise' programme.

Libraries also play a critical role in providing access to culture and, increasingly, in delivering services that support community wellbeing. Given the extraordinary and varying impact of the pandemic on libraries in some parts of Scotland, we will provide a one‑off fund of up to £1.25 million through the Scottish Libraries and Information Council to help them to stay open and support their communities, particularly in areas of deprivation.

We will ensure that Scotland's cultural sector has the skills, infrastructure and opportunities it needs for continued success, and we will use COP26 as an opportunity to enhance its contribution towards Scotland becoming a net zero nation. We will continue to work with creative and cultural businesses to enhance their digital and data skills, building on our £1 million Creative Digital Initiative launched in 2021, and support them in gaining access to new opportunities and markets, as well as to develop data‑driven innovation in the creative industries. We will invest over the course of this Parliament to increase industry access to capital funding to promote green cultural infrastructure across Scotland, contributing to reductions in pollution and emissions at our historic and cultural sites. We will also begin work on establishing a 'Percentage for the Arts' scheme to require that a small percentage of spending on all new public buildings and spaces is channelled into support for culture and community art commissions.

Working with Screen Scotland through its partnership with the skills and the enterprise agencies, we will support the development of skills, facilities and opportunities to tap the full potential of the sector. We will continue to support new studio space, increase skills provision across the sector, including through increasing training and apprenticeship placements, and press the BBC and other broadcasters to increase production from Scotland. And, we will provide additional resources to Screen Scotland, to facilitate year-round engagement between the Scottish and international film and studio industries.

Recognising the importance of place in Scottish culture, and to support communities to celebrate and preserve their heritage, this year we will start work on designing a National Towns of Culture scheme, to be launched over this Parliament. In addition, we will develop our tourism infrastructure, in both urban and rural areas, investing £10 million in initiatives like the Inverness Castle Project and Lossiemouth East Beach footbridge, and improving rural hotel facilities.

Scottish culture is important in and of itself – it brings meaning and enjoyment to lives across the nation, preserves our stories and heritage, and teaches us about our place in the world – but also for its contribution to our international standing. We will refresh and reinvigorate our successful Brand Scotland activity. Over the next year we will create a new brand marque, and build on existing campaign activity, to enhance Scotland's international reputation and our position as an attractive place to live, work, study, visit and do business.

We will be enthusiastic in taking up opportunities to showcase Scotland for an international audience. This year's Winter Festivals – from St Andrew's Day in November through to Burns Night in January – will encourage local communities and visitors alike to celebrate what is great about Scotland, providing an immediate boost to the tourism and events sectors. Recognising it was one of the first to lock down and last to restart, we will continue to work with the events sector on recovery and on the review of our national events strategy, which has been delayed by the pandemic. 2022 will see the launch of Scotland's Year of Stories, encouraging both locals and visitors to explore the places, people and culture connected to Scotland's myriad of stories, past and present. In August 2023, Scotland will host the first ever Cycling World Championships, expected to draw up to 2 million spectators. To inspire Scots to take up cycling and reap the benefits for their health, we will roll out a new £8 million Cycling Facilities Investment Fund ahead of the championships. From early next year, we will work with the UK and Republic of Ireland to progress a joint bid to host the 2030 FIFA world cup.

We are supporting our festivals and performers to get back into the international spotlight, and ensure they stay globally competitive. We are providing £2 million this year for the EXPO Fund, £1 million for the Edinburgh Festivals' Platform for Creative Excellence programme, and £1 million for the Edinburgh Festivals Gateway, supporting a safe and successful return for our major festivals. In our first 100 days, we have also committed the first £375,000 of £750,000 towards a new round of the Touring Fund for Theatre and Dance, and £750,000 to 'Scotland on Tour', a new Scotland Touring Fund for Music, to help theatre and music reach into communities and venues across the country.

When international travel restrictions allow, the cultural and creative sectors will return to an international landscape drastically changed by the pandemic. We will support the sector to re‑engage with international work, adapt and access new markets. We will push the UK Government to work with the EU to deliver free movement for performers, artists, musicians and freelancers, and ensure there are no barriers to those looking to tour and perform in Scotland.

In 2019, Scotland was better connected with the rest of the world than ever before. We will work with Scotland's airports to help restore lost connectivity, and grow international connectivity, while not returning to previous levels of emissions. Separately, we will review Air Passenger Duty rates and bands ahead of the introduction of the devolved Air Departure Tax to ensure that our policy aligns with our climate change goals, including the possibility of a higher tax for more polluting aircraft, while maintaining our commitment to retain the Highlands and Islands exemption.

Welcoming the world also means renewing and reaffirming our auld acquaintance. We will engage with our Scottish Connections international community and expand on our work with Scottish diaspora networks across the world. We will take forward work to breathe new life into twinning initiatives with European regions, states, towns and cities, holding firm to our long‑standing friendships in the aftermath of the UK's exit from the EU.

Creating welcoming communities

EU exit does not just impact on relationships with our neighbours, but on the lives of more than 200,000 EU citizens who have made Scotland their home. They are a part of, and contribute immeasurably to, Scotland. We will build on our Stay in Scotland campaign, providing advice and support to EU citizens who have been compelled to apply to the UK Government's EU Settlement Scheme. We will provide advice and support to EU citizens in securing their status and accessing services. To safeguard them against the UK Government's hostile environment, EU citizens should have the option of physical proof of their status. We have explored options for delivering this physical proof directly, but it is not within devolved powers; we will press the UK Government to provide access to physical proof.

Without powers over immigration, there is a limited number of levers we can pull to encourage people to move to Scotland; but we will do what we can with the powers available to address Scotland's demographic challenges. We will develop a Migration Service for Scotland to support those who have chosen to make Scotland their home.

EU exit will leave a particularly damaging gap in our rural communities, which have historically relied on migration to offset an ageing population and keep services running. We will develop a Rural Visa Pilot proposal, to support people to move to and work in our rural communities, submitting a proposal to the UK Government in 2022. We will press on with our Population Programme and work with partners to determine the right interventions to support our ageing population, encourage inward migration, and increase population growth in rural areas in particular.

Noting the heart‑breaking scenes playing out daily, we will do all we can to support the resettlement of refugees from Afghanistan and elsewhere, enabling people to integrate and rebuild their lives in our communities. We will continue to press the UK Government to give Scotland the powers we need to chart our own course on migration, and urge them to introduce a fair and humane asylum and refugee system. Where our fair and inclusive approach is undermined by reserved asylum and immigration policy we will raise issues with the UK Government and push for positive change which respects people's dignity and rights. We will refresh and expand our New Scots Refugee Integration Strategy, and award £2.8 million in EU funding to new projects to spread good practices and support innovation under the outcomes and objectives of the Strategy. This year we will provide an additional £500,000 to support local authorities to accommodate more unaccompanied asylum seeking children arriving in Scotland. Next summer we will also launch Scotland's new Independent Child Trafficking Guardians service to provide ongoing practical help and support to refugee children and young people, including victims of trafficking, who arrive in Scotland alone. And, starting in Glasgow, we will create the first Scottish Cities of Refuge: safe spaces where artists and writers at risk from across the globe can come to live and work without fear of persecution.

While the Scottish Government does not have powers to change UK‑wide rules on No Recourse to Public Funds, we are clear that no‑one should be made destitute because of their immigration status. We will do everything in our power to improve support for people at risk of destitution, delivering on our Ending Destitution Together strategy.

Our policies and actions abroad will be consistent with our focus on fairness and inclusion at home. We will create a new global affairs framework this year to guide Scotland's international engagement, grounded in a values‑based approach, and a feminist approach to foreign policy. We will support the Global South with their own recovery and, from April 2022, start to increase the International Development Fund from £10 million to £15 million, maintaining that increase in line with inflation throughout this Parliament. Building on our recent donations of oxygen concentrators and ventilators to African partner countries, we will support their COVID‑19 responses this year through additional supplies of medical equipment and products, including vital PPE through the NHS Scotland Global Citizenship Programme. We will sustain our £1 million per year Humanitarian Emergency Fund, including providing support in 2021 for the crisis in Afghanistan. We will also support a new £500,000 International Development Women and Girls Empowerment Fund, funding local organisations in partner countries to ensure women and girls are safe, equal and respected. We will also use our Residential Fellowship Programme to train women in conflict zones to play a full part in peacebuilding and conflict resolution, expanding this to include training in mitigating the effects of climate change, with a new cohort of Climate Fellows announced in November.

Scotland will continue to act as a good global citizen by supporting international order and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. We will bring forward a Wellbeing and Sustainable Development Bill, putting duties on public bodies and local government to take account of the impact of their decisions on sustainable development, in Scotland and internationally. To support an internationally sustainable recovery, we will reconstitute our Ministerial Working Group on Policy Coherence for Sustainable Development. We will also reconstitute a new Global South Programme Panel to lend expertise to our international development work, and ensure voices from the Global South continue to be heard in Scotland. And we will review approaches to future policy and economic engagement with a view to enhancing Scotland's global reach and presence.

By the end of 2022 we will establish a Peace Institute, with a focus on human rights, that enables us to develop further our understanding of conflict resolution and peace. We will continue to argue for nuclear disarmament, mindful of the risks that Scotland faces as a result of housing the UK's nuclear deterrent.

At a time of increasing insularity, Scotland's strength will remain in its internationalism. We will continue to work with our friends and partners in Europe and beyond to reaffirm diplomatic ties, improve our global networks, enhance international communications activity, and unlock new economic and trading opportunities. We will strengthen our base in Brussels, and next year open a Scottish Government Office in Copenhagen, to increase Scotland's economic and cultural visibility in the Nordic regions. Over the lifetime of this Parliament, we will also open an office in Warsaw, as part of our continued commitment to enhancing our external reach and voice. And we will support the establishment of a Scottish Council for Global Affairs – a new think tank which will coordinate Scottish expertise and research on global issues and their impact on Scotland.



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