Fairer Scotland action plan: progress report 2019

Progress made on the Fairer Scotland action plan published in 2016.

Other actions

Collaboration is often required across a number of areas to make progress on tackling poverty and reducing inequalities, reflecting the cross-cutting nature of the efforts to make Scotland fairer.  The issues on which updates are provided in the this section are clear examples of Scottish Government activity which cut across a number of the themes, such as those on public service delivery, public sector reform and inclusive growth.  While these updates support the following actions and recommendations across the reports, they also contribute to many other themes already covered in this progress report.  


FSAP 6. We will deliver 100% superfast broadband access by 2021, helping low income households reduce costs

We have committed to superfast broadband for every home and business in Scotland, and are working over the coming year to establish the Scotland 5G Centre.  To address the inequality that comes with being more digitally excluded, we have provided £1 million in 2019-20 for our Digital Start Fund to help more disadvantaged people develop their digital skills, enhance their job prospects and connect them with other people.

Inclusive growth

Life Chances 11. Do more to disseminate models of good practice on inclusive growth

Scotland’s Centre for Regional Inclusive Growth (SCRIG) was launched by the Scottish Government in July 2018 to support and enable the delivery of inclusive growth across Scotland.  SCRIG works across government, industry and academia to provide access to toolkits and data, research and examples of good practice that support the delivery of more inclusive economic outcomes.  It also delivers an inclusive growth ‘community of practice’ in partnership with Economic Development Association Scotland which brings together public, private and third sector partners to share lessons and experience of how to deliver inclusive growth on the ground. 


FSAP 24. We will make better use of community-based interventions to reduce re-offending further and to help people move on from offending

The presumption against short periods of imprisonment was extended to 12 months or less over the summer following Parliamentary scrutiny and approval.  This move will help mitigate the detrimental impact of short periods of imprisonment by instead better supporting the rehabilitation of individuals who have offended and prevent reoffending.  In addition, the new Management of Offenders (Scotland) Act 2019[47] was completed which will allow for expansion of electronic monitoring to cover a wider range of orders and licences in the community and help prevent re-offending. 

The Scottish Violence Reduction Unit’s Street and Arrow initiative provides training, mentoring and paid employment to address and support the needs of people with a criminal record who have made a commitment to move away from their chaotic violent lifestyles.  The catering contract within Glasgow Dental Hospital secured through this initiative in August 2018 is expected to run for five years.  It will enable more people with histories of violence a chance to transform their lives whilst contributing towards local economic development, supporting the individuals involved, their families and communities.

A national Community Justice Leadership Group, co-chaired by the Cabinet Secretary for Justice and CoSLA, was established in August 2019 to drive action to improve the delivery of community justice services across Scotland.  A sustained focus on prevention and effective interventions in Scotland has helped ensure reconviction rates remain at a 20 year low.

Public sector reform and public service delivery

FSAP 9. We will reform public services to deliver the highest quality service to users, with dignity and respect at their core
StC 14. Ensure that public service delivery is respectful, person-centred and preserves the dignity of people in poverty: pre-employment and in-service training should include the importance of avoiding stigma and developing understanding of the challenges of living on a very low income

Public service reform sets out an expectation that our public services are better able to focus on supporting improved outcomes for all, especially those whose life chances and wellbeing are poorest.  To support this aim, the Scottish Leaders Forum (SLF) relaunched in June 2019 with a programme of activity to inspire and challenge senior leaders in driving long term public service transformation.  SLF Action Groups formed subsequently are now testing new, innovative approaches to key policy challenges, including how leaders can strategically tackle child poverty, how public service systems can promote diversity and improve minority ethnic employment, and how values such as kindness and openness can be embedded in our public services.  Discussions with Action Groups on addressing these challenges formed a major part of the latest SLF event in November.

We are committed to delivering our new public services in a way which is respectful and preserves the dignity of those accessing support.  Fair Start Scotland, the cornerstone of our devolved employability support, is a voluntary service which participants can access without fear of sanctions.  The service will offer high quality employment support to a minimum of 38,000 unemployed people who want to work and need help to enter and/or remain in the labour market.

Social Security Scotland, our devolved social security agency is built on firm foundations which put dignity and respect at the forefront of service delivery.  We created our Charter with people with lived experience of the social security system, setting out what they should expect from the new system.  This reinforces how we will make sure that we are taking a human rights based approach to what we do and how we will demonstrate dignity, fairness and respect in all our actions.

In addition to the induction for all new entrants from April 2019, the Learning and Development Team within Social Security Scotland has designed and delivered Charter Training, the objective of which is to embed respect for the dignity of individuals, ensuring it is at the heart of the Scottish Social Security system.  Poverty awareness training has been incorporated into the learning routeway for all new entrants from May 2019, aimed at increasing awareness of stigma associated with living in poverty and providing skills to challenge low income stigma.  Other training sessions have involved input from external stakeholders, such as that by One Parent Families Scotland for the Best Start Grant (from May 2019) and Sands Lothian for the Funeral Support Payment learning from August 2019 to increase awareness of the challenges faced by clients in order to provide a service that is respectful and person-centred.


FSAP 41. Transport Scotland is working with Young Scot to make the National Entitlement Card smart ready for 11-25 year olds
Life Chances 12. Do more to provide subsidised/free transport for young people aged 25 and under

The Young Scot National Entitlement Card is now smart enabled, and provides discounted travel on both bus and rail for card holders aged 16-18.  Transport Scotland continues to work with local authorities and Young Scot to introduce targeted regional concessions that address barriers to accessing transport, such as Renfrewshire’s Through Care scheme (launched in 2017), the Falkirk Looked After scheme and the Youth Attainment Holiday scheme in North Lanarkshire (both launched in 2019).  From May 2019 Young Scot discounts for certain tickets can be applied to Smartcards, including Young Scot cards, at ScotRail booking offices and online.

ScotRail offers ‘tickets for travel to interview’ for jobseekers to obtain up to two free return tickets per month to attend interviews.  Where a jobseeker secures employment, they can also apply for a ticket for free travel for a month.  To help support people getting back into work, there is the UK-wide Jobcentre Plus Travel Discount Card which provides people who are unemployed and claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance or Universal Credit with a 50% discount on selected rail tickets.

We continue to provide £54.2 million in 2019-20 through the Bus Service Operators Grant to subsidise all bus services across Scotland, helping to keep bus fares lower than they would be otherwise.  As part of the commitment to invest over £500 million in bus priority infrastructure, we are also developing the Bus Partnership Fund for local authorities, the detail of which will be set out in early 2020.  The fund will further improve bus services and support implementation of the bus partnership provisions in the Transport (Scotland) Bill 2019.

On 27 November 2019 we launched a three month pilot to provide free bus travel for modern apprentices in Shetland, Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire.  The aim of this pilot is to better understand the impact free bus travel would have in supporting modern apprentices aged 16-18 and those in the first year of their apprenticeship with the costs they incur when accessing training and travelling to work.

In autumn 2019 we established a working group to review the merits of extending public transport concessions to people under the age of 26.  Our review of concessionary fares seeks to address a number of commitments, including those stemming from the Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan.  Officials will continue to work closely with stakeholders to explore how all areas of transport, including travel concession schemes, can best support the delivery of the child poverty reduction targets.  We are also working to extend the concessionary travel scheme during the course of next year to include recipients of the Young Carer Grant and companions of disabled children under five years of age. 


Email: sjsu@gov.scot

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