Renewing Scotland's public services: priorities for reform in response to the Christie Commission

The Government's response to the Christie commission on the future delivery of public services.


"The adoption of preventative approaches, in particular approaches which build on the active participation of service users and communities, will contribute significantly to making the best possible use of money and other assets. They will help to eradicate duplication and waste and, critically, take demand out of the system over the longer term."
Commission on the Future Delivery of Public Services

Over the course of this Parliament Scotland's public services will make a decisive shift towards prevention and take a holistic approach to addressing inequalities. This focus is essential to address the current squeeze on the Scottish budget, tackle persistent inequalities and ensure the sustainability of our public services in the longer term.

The sustainability of Scotland's public services is challenged both by the austerity measures imposed by the Westminster government and by longer-term structural trends in the demand for public services. Demand for many services is being driven higher by a combination of demographic factors - linked in particular to the improving health and life expectancy of our older population - and the negative legacy of persistent inequality that results from the policy failures of previous decades.

As a responsible Government, we believe it vital to the future sustainability of our public services that we take swift action to:

  • accelerate progress in building prevention into the design and delivery of all our public services;
  • focus support in the first few years of life where we know it can have the biggest impact in improving life chances for the most vulnerable in society;
  • unlock resources currently invested in dealing with acute problems;
  • tackle inter-generational cycles of inequality and pockets of disadvantage that blight the life chances of some of our people; and
  • better utilise the talents, capacities and potential of our people and communities.

Our Achievements

In giving greater emphasis to prevention and widening opportunity, we will build on a positive record of success across public services. In the last Parliament the Government:

  • worked with COSLA to develop the Early Years framework to maximise positive opportunities for children to get the best start in life, supported by our £6.8 million Early Years and Early Action Fund;
  • worked with COSLA to develop Achieving our Potential our anti-poverty framework and implemented the Child Poverty Strategy for Scotland to address the profound and lasting impact on children's outcomes caused by income poverty and material deprivation;
  • took action through the Economic Recovery Plan to shield individuals, families and businesses from the worst impacts of the recession and maximise investment targeted on boosting jobs and growth;
  • invested £150 million to help thousands of individuals and hundreds of employers combat the recession through ScotAction - our programme of training and skills support;
  • raised the age of tobacco purchase from 16 to 18 years and launched Scotland's Future is Smoke Free to reduce smoking by children and young people. We invested record sums in smoking cessation measures - more than £11 million - in the last spending review period;
  • successfully engaged more than 113,000 people (between 2007 and July 2011) through the initial Keep Well programme of inequalities-targeted health checks - delivering better local outcomes of lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and smoking cessation;
  • backed radical action on alcohol misuse with a record £155 million investment in prevention, treatment and support services. This, along with our reform of local Alcohol and Drug Partnerships, is significantly improving services to those in need;
  • delivered all-time low primary school class sizes and rolled out the Curriculum for Excellence, alongside a Literacy Action Plan, helping to equip young people with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed;
  • doubled funding for the innovative youth engagement campaign No Knives, Better Lives, which has reduced knife carrying among young people and helped to cut the level of knife crime 38 per cent since 2007;
  • built a credible and effective alternative to short-term custodial sentences through the creation of the Community Payback Order and ensured that the proceeds of crime (over £42m since 2007) were reinvested in activities for over 600,000 young people across Scotland through the CashBack for Communities scheme;
  • invested a record £1.7 billion in affordable housing over the period 2008-11 and developed new affordable homes for rent through the National Housing Trust, which works with Councils, housing associations and private developers to generate around £100 million of investment and support for over 1,000 jobs from every 700 homes built;
  • introduced the Energy Assistance Package, helping nearly 200,000 people on low incomes reduce their energy bills and keep their homes warm, as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions; and
  • delivered the hugely successful Climate Challenge Fund that empowered 345 communities across Scotland to take forward their own solutions to reduce their carbon footprint.

Our Priorities

There is a growing body of evidence which demonstrates that spending on prevention can deliver better solutions and outcomes for individuals and avert future costs to the public sector. This starts with a focus on the first few years of life where we know that a good start will bear dividends for a lifetime. Since 2007, we have worked with delivery partners to support this approach, including through the Early Years framework. But we are not limiting our efforts to early years - we are driving forward a range of policies, from shifting the balance of care to enable older people to remain at home, to our work to reduce offending.

Now we need to take this work to the next stage. We have therefore identified significant funding to support transition across public services away from dealing with the symptoms of disadvantage and inequality towards tackling their root causes. This will help deliver outcomes at reduced cost over the period of the Spending Review and this Parliamentary term. The third sector has a crucial role to play in delivery, because of its specialist expertise, ability to engage with vulnerable groups and flexible and innovative approach.

As part of our approach, we are introducing three new funds to support preventative spending:

  • a continuation of the Change Fund for older people's services. The fund currently amounts to £70 million within the NHS budget for 2011-12. This will increase to £80m / £80m / £70m within NHS budgets, supplemented by funding from local partners.
  • an Early Years and Early Intervention Change Fund to be overseen by the Early Years Taskforce aimed at using evidence-based interventions to give our children the best start in life. The resourcing of this fund will be provided by NHS Boards and local authorities, working together to agree their local contributions and achieve maximum impact and value for money. As a central contribution to this, the Scottish Government will provide £50 million of resource over the lifetime of this Parliament through the Sure Start Fund component of the Scottish Futures Fund.
  • a Reducing Reoffending Change Fund, focussing on preventative spend, will be created to bolster those interventions that we know can reduce reoffending. This work will take account of the particular contribution that can be made by third sector service providers. The fund will expand the coverage and impact of those interventions with a proven track record in reducing reoffending, as well as supporting innovation. This will help shift the focus of services, to get the correct balance between proactive and reactive services, as part of the next phase of the reducing reoffending programme.

Taken together, these funds provide over £500 million of investment in preventative spending over the Spending Review period, bringing together new and existing expenditure. This continuing investment in preventative spend is directly aimed at improving outcomes and reducing the demand for a range of acute services over time. These funds will help drive the further integration of services and the sharing of vital resources. Corresponding budgets can therefore be reduced in future years, enabling us to manage costs across the Spending Review period as a whole.

Scottish Futures Fund - Investment in Jobs and a Fairer Future

We will take an innovative approach to investment in jobs and infrastructure. The Spending Review confirms that we will deliver on our commitment to establish a £250 million Scottish Futures Fund to be delivered over the lifetime of this Parliament. The fund will have five components:

  • Young Scots Fund - this is a youth talent initiative focused on sport, enterprise and creativity, including funding to take forward skills development for young people and the new national Football Academy.
  • Next Generation Digital Fund - this will support the rollout of superfast broadband, particularly in rural areas of Scotland.
  • Sure Start Fund - this will act as a change fund to deliver effective intervention in a child's life, as part of the Government's action to lead a decisive shift towards increased preventative spending, overseen by the Early Years Task Force.
  • Warm Homes Fund - this will support the Government's concerted action to tackle fuel poverty and deliver renewable energy and energy-efficient homes in those communities worst affected by fuel poverty.
  • Future Transport Fund - this will focus on modal shift to help more Scots move to low-carbon and active travel options, boosting business and growth.

Together, these funds provide substantial additional investment to support key economic, social and environmental objectives. The Spending Review provides funding of over £160 million over the next three years across these five funds, with a further £90 million to be delivered in 2015-16.

Renewing Post-16 Learning and Student Support

The Government's proposals to reform Post-16 Education and Skills, published on 14 September, will transform post-16 learning and student support systems. The aim is to develop a better learner journey - one that equips people with the right skills to enter and stay in work.

The Scottish Government is committed to free higher education, based on the ability to learn not the ability to pay. Through Opportunities for All all 16-19 year olds not in work will be offered an apprenticeship or learning place in post-16 education or training. In addition, the Government will continue to: support local partnerships to deliver 16+ Learning Choices and Activity Agreements to support the most vulnerable 16-19 year olds; fully support the Educational Maintenance Allowance; and implement the new Careers Strategy with more and better support for those who need it most.

Our priorities for preventative action during this Parliament also include:

  • a Rights of Children and Young People Bill, expanded nursery education and a new legal limit of 25 on class sizes in primary one from August this year;
  • new legislation that supports councils, the health service and Government to deliver early years services and to see early years education as an essential part of the learning journey and ensure the Getting it Right for Every Child ( GIRFEC) approach is developed nationwide;
  • a major programme, backed with investment of £30 million, to establish new approaches to detecting cancer early;
  • minimum pricing for alcohol to tackle the scourge of alcohol abuse and alcohol-related disorder and a new comprehensive robust tobacco control strategy for Scotland focused on prevention and cessation;
  • development of a Regeneration Strategy that responds to the challenges faced by our most disadvantaged communities and makes an important contribution to growing Scotland's economy, creating jobs and prosperity and improving the life chances of Scotland's people; and
  • continuing support for renewable generation schemes at a community level through loans from the Community and Renewable Energy Scheme ( CARES).
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