The Fairer Scotland Action Plan is the Scottish Government's response to the Fairer Scotland conversation that involved 7,000 people at more than 200 public events throughout 2015 and 2016.
The Plan lays out our vision "to build a better country – one with low levels of poverty and inequality, genuine equality of opportunity, stronger life chances and support for all those who need it."
The Plan is built on five high-level ambitions:
- A Fairer Scotland for All
- Ending Child Poverty
- A Strong Start for All Young People
- Fairer Working Lives
- A Thriving Third Age
At the heart of the Plan are 50 Fairness Actions for This Parliamentary Term that will help us meet these ambitions, covering policy issues across government.
This report documents the progress we have made on each action since October 2016 with specific reference to progress made since our last update in November 2017. The following chapters also include an update on the new actions introduced in the 2017 Progress Report.
Focus on Poverty
Poverty was a central focus to the fairer Scotland discussions – with a strong sense that society should be doing everything it can to reduce and ultimately end poverty.
Following sustained falls in poverty levels since the late nineties, they have once again started to rise, with many highlighting UK Government welfare reforms as a key driver of these increases. These reforms are having a detrimental impact on those living on low incomes, pushing up poverty rates and causing individuals to rely on emergency provision and charitable aid.
The Scottish Government's 2018 Annual Report on Welfare Reform estimated that welfare reforms imposed by successive UK governments between 2010 and the 2018 UK Autumn Statement would result in an overall reduction in welfare spending in Scotland of £3.7 billion in 2020-21. Clearly it is beyond the ability of the Scottish Government to make up the money lost through these cuts.
As a government, we are investing over £125 million in 2018-c9 to mitigate the worst impact of these reforms and to support those on low incomes – this represents a £20 million increase on spend last year. This spending is allocated as noted in the table below:
Table 1 – Scottish Government budget allocations, rounded to nearest £1 million
|Welfare Reform Mitigation||Investment directly made to mitigate against the impacts of welfare reform or reductions in spend due to UK Government cuts||£103m|
|Low Income Protection||Wider support to reduce the impact of living on a low income and ensure individuals can access essential goods and services||£24m|
However, this does not even begin to capture the wider investment which supports those on low incomes, such as:
- Over £20 million [2018-19] for our Empowering Communities Fund – supporting key local funding such as our Aspiring Communities Fund and Social Economy Growth Fund [Action 4]
- More than £3 billion committed to meet our 50,000 affordable homes target [Action 14]
- Investing around £990 million per year by 2021-22 to ensure that every child can access 1140 hours of fully funded early learning and childcare. [Action 29]
- £1.4 billion investment in the Council Tax Reduction Scheme since 2013 [Action 31]
- £750 million for the Attainment Scotland Fund in this parliamentary term [Action 33]
- £25 million investment [2018-19] on Educational Maintenance Allowance;
- £50 million for our Tackling Child Poverty Fund [2018-22]; of which £12 million will support intensive employment support for parents, and
- An additional £20 million above UK Government funding in each year of Parliament to support Fair Start Scotland – committing up to £96 million overall.
Email: Daniel Paterson