Programme for Government 2023 to 2024

Focuses on equality, opportunity and community.

This document is part of a collection

Delivering our National Missions

Equality: Tackling poverty and protecting people from harm

Poverty harms too many people and communities and tackling it in all its forms, particularly child poverty, underpins how we will govern. We have been clear that nothing is off the table, no matter how hard that choice is, and that we will continue to use every power we have to protect people across Scotland from the cost of living crisis and the harm inflicted by UK Government policies. As a government, we have spent over a billion pounds mitigating the impacts of 13 years of UK Government policy such as the bedroom tax and benefit cap.

This government will invest £5.3 billion in 2023-24 through devolved benefits. Over the last five years we have also invested £711 million through activities such as Discretionary Housing Payments and the Scottish Welfare Fund to mitigate the austerity of UK Government policies. This money could be spent on core services like health, education and transport.

In the year ahead, the Scottish Government will take forward a comprehensive work programme with our partners in Local Government and the third sector to tackle poverty, address barriers to equality and protect all people from harm. Poverty does not affect everyone equally and that is why we will have a particular focus on supporting women, disabled people, ethnic minorities and children from our six priority family groups – underpinned by our unwavering commitment to keeping The Promise.

In the year ahead, we commit to work with Local Government and other partners to develop the local infrastructure and services needed to provide childcare from nine months to the end of primary school in specific communities in six local authority areas. Testing different models of delivery that meet local needs, including digital services, is critical and that is why we will focus on prototyping digital services that will help parents and carers choose and manage their childcare more effectively.

Since its introduction in February 2021, our unique, game-changing Scottish Child Payment has provided over £352 million, and as of 30 June over 316,000 children were actively benefiting from this payment – lifting an estimated 50,000 children out of relative poverty in Scotland this year. Despite the challenging economic environment, we commit to continued investment in our Scottish Child Payment, currently worth £25 per child per week.

Our Housing Bill will help to deliver our New Deal for Tenants by creating new tenants’ rights and powers for the introduction of a system of long term rent controls. To support that, we will continue working with stakeholders across landlord, tenant and investor groups. The Bill will also introduce new duties aimed at the prevention of homelessness.

The introduction of a pilot for the removal of ScotRail peak-time fares, beginning in October, is a key step in delivering on our missions and it is a move that will make rail travel more affordable and accessible during the pilot, while helping identify longer-term steps to reduce car use.

Delivering Fair Work for all is critical to our missions and a top priority for the Scottish Government. We are committed to boosting wages by increasing the number of employers who pay at least the Real Living Wage and to promoting Fair Work as set out in our Fair Work Action Plan.

Opportunity: Building a fair, green and growing economy

We have been clear that our ambition to make Scotland fairer goes hand in hand with making Scotland more prosperous. We are committed to resetting our relationship with the business community and we will use every power at our disposal to support sustainable economic growth and maximise the opportunities of the green economy – helping businesses to thrive and people to realise their full potential.

A just transition to net zero is at the heart of our approach. Scotland is at the forefront of the clean energy transition and our green jobs revolution is well underway. We are backing this up with almost £5 billion of investment in the net zero energy economy in Scotland over this parliamentary term, including our ten-year commitment to the £500 million Just Transition Fund for Aberdeen, the North East and Moray. It is through this just transition that we will also continue to show genuine climate leadership. The transition to net zero will indeed be challenging, but this is also a once in a century opportunity to transform our economy, our communities and our lives for the better.

In the year ahead, we will implement the recommendations of the New Deal for Business Group, putting this at the heart of our economic strategy. We will work with business to identify and remove regulations that are no longer required, if a good case can be made. We will ensure that businesses, including small businesses, are engaged from the earliest stage of policy development. We will establish a new Small Business Unit to ensure that the interests of small businesses are always considered. We will work with partners to transform the way we provide support to small businesses and to help small businesses raise productivity and reduce costs.

We will implement a new enterprise package. Our aim is to unleash innovation and entrepreneurial talent from all walks of life and in all parts of Scotland. We will make it easier to start and scale a business. We will put Scotland’s universities at the heart of our economic future through spin-outs and the commercialisation of research. We will deliver our innovation strategy and support business growth in a range of high-value clusters, such as energy transition, health and life sciences, advanced manufacturing, and data and digital.

Responding to the climate crisis is a fundamental priority for this government. Scaling up renewables is central to our strategy and that is why we will establish a sector deal with the onshore wind industry to help deliver our onshore wind ambition, maximising the benefits for Scotland’s economy and communities. We will also develop a Green Industrial Strategy, setting out how the Scottish Government intends to help businesses and investors realise the enormous economic opportunities of the global transition to net zero and of creating good, well-paid jobs in sectors such as offshore wind and hydrogen, while also supporting the development of sectoral Just Transition Plans.

Through our draft Climate Change Plan, the Scottish Government will set out how we continue to drive down emissions with bold action across transport, heat, and other areas – demonstrating how our ambition will be realised while maximising opportunities for the economy, job creation, health and the natural environment.

We are committed to education and skills reform and driving forward our ambitions around excellence and equity for all children, young people and lifelong learners in Scotland. With their voices at the core, these reforms will draw on the evidence from three recent independent reviews – the National Discussion on Education, the Review of Qualifications and Assessment and the Review of the Skills Delivery Landscape. To support our reform agenda, we will also bring forward legislation to ensure that we have the right structures and organisations in place to deliver our ambitions to make Scotland the best place in the world to be educated.

Community: Delivering efficient and effective public services

We are undertaking ambitious reform of public services, rebuilding and reshaping how education is delivered and putting victims and witnesses at the heart of our justice system – all underpinned by an ambitious and comprehensive legislative package. We have launched a new ten-year cancer strategy to help improve survival rates and provide quality care. We have also published strategies to improve the treatment and care of those with dementia and those who have suffered a stroke. We are making progress in tackling long waits for NHS treatment.

We believe in supporting people and communities by understanding their needs and their strengths, so we will enable our public servants to co-design systems focused on early support and intervention where and when people need it. We must continue to improve the way we deliver public services, driving efficiencies and use of digital and technology while encouraging people to live active and healthy lives. This is fundamental to improving outcomes across our society, protecting people from harm and reducing inequalities, including for all women and girls. Building on the Verity House Agreement, we continue to work in partnership with Local Government to develop services focused on the prevention of social harms, delivery of vital local services and building thriving communities.

The Verity House Agreement sets out how the local and national governments of Scotland will work together and progress our shared priorities: tackling poverty, just transition to net zero and sustainable public services. In the year ahead, we will work with our local authority partners to deepen and embed this partnership, with a particular focus on agreeing a revised Fiscal Framework.

Greater investment in the social care sector is a top priority for the Scottish Government. It is essential to make sure people get the vital care and support they need by tackling the sector’s ongoing recruitment and retention crisis. This will also support the recovery of our NHS while helping to ensure people can be supported at home. We commit to provide the necessary funding in the next Budget to increase the pay of social care workers in the private, third and independent (PVI) sectors in a direct care role, and those working in the PVI sector to deliver funded early learning and childcare, to at least £12 per hour. We remain committed to the National Care Service and in the year ahead we will deliver legislation, subject to the agreement of Parliament, to ensure consistency of provision and improvements in social care, social work, and community health support, working in partnership with people who access and deliver services, trade unions, Local Government, and the third sector.

Addressing hospital waiting lists is critical and through our targeted investment, such as our £1 billion NHS Recovery Plan, we are making significant progress. We will continue to work with Health Boards to reduce waiting lists and protect planned care. We must match demand with capacity and that is why, by the end of 2023, we will open the National Treatment Centre (NTC) in Forth Valley and deliver the second phase of the NHS Golden Jubilee NTC, providing significant additional capacity in endoscopies, as well as orthopaedics and general surgery.

We have seen good progress in closing the poverty-related attainment gap since the pandemic, particularly in primary school attainment. In the year ahead, we will continue to support schools and local authorities to improve the attainment of children and young people impacted by poverty, with a particular focus on literacy and numeracy – underpinned by our £1 billion investment in the Scottish Attainment Challenge.

We are committed to supporting justice agencies to reduce court backlogs, including aiming to end the backlog of summary cases during 2024 and reduce waiting times for justice. Reform of the justice system is fundamental and that is why, in the year ahead, we will take forward a comprehensive package of legislation – including progress of the Victims, Witnesses, and Justice Reform (Scotland) Bill and the Police (Ethics, Conduct and Scrutiny) (Scotland) Bill and implementation of the Bail and Release from Custody (Scotland) Act 2023. We will also continue to support Police Scotland to ensure they have the tools they need to keep the public safe, supporting the roll out of body worn cameras to officers over the next two years.



Back to top