Scottish Government and Scottish Green Party: draft shared policy programme
Working together to build a greener, fairer, independent Scotland.
A Fairer Scotland
In this section:
The Scottish Government and Scottish Green Party believe that housing is a fundamental human right. We believe that it underpins the health, wellbeing, happiness and life-chances of people in our communities. We will work together to make the right to a suitable, affordable, warm and safe home a reality.
We will take action to improve the affordability and quality of rented homes, and to improve the fairness of the terms on which they are rented.
We will take action to end homelessness.
We will work together on our shared aim for everyone to have a safe, high-quality home that is affordable and meets their needs in the place they want to be. A new housing standard will underpin these ambitions, ensuring that all homes, irrespective of tenure, type or location should, over time, meet this standard.
We therefore agree, as part of the Rented Sector Strategy to be published by the end of 2021, to deliver a new deal for tenants. This new deal will be developed in consultation, and will:
- create a new housing regulator for the private rented sector to improve standards and enforce tenants’ rights
- enhance tenants’ rights, including through greater restrictions on evictions over winter, providing additional security for tenants
- introduce new rights for tenants, for example giving tenants greater flexibility to decorate their home and to keep pets
- put in place additional penalties and compensation for illegal evictions
Following the conclusion of the Rented Sector Strategy consultation we will publish a final Rented Sector Strategy and introduce a Housing Bill in the second year of this parliamentary session, to deliver a number of the legislative changes required to implement the Strategy.
We will also implement an effective national system of rent controls, with an appropriate mechanism to allow local authorities to introduce local measures. We will consult on the options, deliver legislation and implement rent controls by the end of 2025.
We will deliver 110,000 affordable homes by 2032 of which at least 70% will be available for social rent and 10% will be in our remote, rural and island communities. We will develop a Remote, Rural & Islands Housing action plan to ensure we meet the housing needs of those areas and help retain people and attract them to these communities. This will be backed by a Remote, Rural and Island Housing Fund of at least £45m as part of our overall affordable housing supply programme funding in this parliamentary session.
We also agree:
- through all of this work, to use innovative methods to engage people with the proposals we consult on, including through listening to those with lived experience
- to improve the availability of homes by working together to regulate short-term lets, give local authorities the ability to manage the impact of second homes and bring empty homes back into use. Where possible, empty homes will be brought into the social rented sector
- to progress work towards tenure-neutral standards and work to develop a new Housing Standard for all tenures that is aligned with the proposed energy efficiency and heat standards
- to work to end homelessness, including by rolling out a housing-first approach
- to take forward the recommendations of the Scottish Parliament working group on tenement maintenance
- to explore ways in which we can provide further support for housing cooperatives, including potentially through LBTT relief, through funding and financing options
- to consult, as part of the Rented Sector Strategy, on how we will deliver a rent guarantor scheme for estranged young people
- to ensure community housing trusts are adequately funded so that they can support the delivery of our enhanced rural home building plans
The Scottish Government and Scottish Green Party are united in our commitment to eradicating child poverty and meeting the ambitious targets set through the Child Poverty (Scotland) Act 2017 and agreeing that Scotland should be the best place in the world to grow up.
We agree that as part of the national mission to tackle child poverty, action is needed across government, the wider public sector, civic society and business to make the bold changes required.
We agree there has been an attack on the welfare state by the UK Government pushing families into poverty whilst we take action to pull people out of poverty. The focus must remain on these attacks whilst acknowledging only the further devolution of powers, particularly over social security and employment, would enable the Scottish Government to go further and deliver a fairer more equal Scotland. We are committed to using the limited powers that we have to help the people of Scotland in the most effective ways possible.
The Scottish Child Payment is one of the building blocks to supporting children in poverty and to maximise the impact on tackling child poverty we agree to:
- significantly increase the level of the Scottish Child Payment, following the planned rollout to 6 to 15 year olds, in order to maximise the impact on child poverty, with the full £20 payment being achieved within the lifetime of the Parliament. In addition, we have a shared aspiration to actively seek ways to accelerate the implementation of that commitment, including looking at options for staged increases. Final decisions about timing and increases will factor in to the spending review and be taken in the relevant budget
- provide immediate support to children and young people through Scottish Child Payment bridging payments of £520 in both 2021 and 2022, paid quarterly for children in receipt of free school meals on the basis of low income. In order to maximise uptake of these bridging payments we will take action to encourage those eligible to sign up for free school meals
- collaborate in the development of the next Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan for the period 2022-26, setting out further action to deliver progress on our shared ambition to eradicate child poverty in Scotland. This will include action to maximise household incomes, reduce household costs, address the poverty premium, and improve the wellbeing and life chances of children and young people
As a programme of firm commitments, we agree:
- to provide £10 million of funding over this parliamentary term to increase access to advice services to maximise incomes, tackle the poverty penalty and improve wellbeing. This will be in accessible settings including education and health settings with a focus on families, particularly the six priority families as outlined in the Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan
- that during this Parliament, we will introduce statutory guidance for schools; increasing the use of generic items of uniform and reducing costs for families
- to treble the funding we make available to the STUC Unions into Schools project A Better Way to Work, providing up to £70,000 from 2022/23
- to explore, with a view to implementing, ways to improve the support given to people impacted by the UK Government’s benefit cap, within the scope of devolved powers, and as part of our new deal for tenants
- that the Fairer Scotland Duty provides a statutory basis for consideration of socio-economic disadvantage in strategic decision making. We will strengthen the focus on child poverty within new guidance to support public bodies in the implementation of this Duty
- to continue to work with stakeholders and local authorities to explore systems of automatic payment for devolved social security benefits. This will include linking Scottish Child Payment with our Best Start Grant entitlements, linking Scottish Child Payment data to trigger automation of local authority entitlements where possible, and “passported” entitlements based on receipt of devolved disability benefits
- to prioritise work to deliver a Minimum Income Guarantee, focusing on what can be done with the existing powers held by the Scottish Parliament to ensure that people in Scotland can live dignified, health and secure lives
- to undertake an independent review of the purpose and operation of the Scottish Welfare Fund to ensure it works as well as possible in all parts of the country
- to continue to call upon the UK Government to support basic income pilots in Scotland and across the rest of the UK
We also agree that:
- we will extend financial support to people subject to No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) recognising that the UK government retains control of the list of restricted public funds for immigration purposes, which may undermine our efforts
- mitigating these policies presents highly significant challenges, including the ongoing need for complex data from the Department for Work and Pensions
- these harmful and ineffective UK Government policies must be removed, in order to provide the most effective and swift remedy to this situation. We will work with stakeholders and organisations from across the political spectrum to effectively lobby the UK Government into addressing these harmful policies at source
Action we have committed to elsewhere in this agreement, for example, our plans to offer a new deal for tenants, along with an effective system of rent controls, will also support our joint commitment to tackling child poverty.
Equality, inclusion and human rights
The Scottish Government and Scottish Green Party believe that equality, inclusion and human rights should underpin decision-making and delivery across the work of government and the wider public sector in Scotland. We are committed to:
- promoting equality and tackling discrimination
- furthering Scotland’s position as a global leader in human rights, and taking action to ensure the progressive implementation of human rights for everyone in Scotland
- ensuring that all of Scotland’s people, including those who share protected characteristics, are able to fulfil their potential and achieve the outcomes in the National Performance Framework
- working with communities to ensure that everyone feels safe, respected and included in the life of Scotland
- protecting and advancing LGBTI rights. We know that trans people in particular continue to suffer poorer outcomes relative to the wider population, and this needs to change. As we take forward the specific commitments set out here, we jointly reaffirm our commitment to dignity, equality and inclusion of the LGBTI community in Scotland
- reform the Gender Recognition Act in a Bill introduced in the first year of this parliamentary session. This will ensure the process by which a trans person can obtain legal recognition is simplified, reducing the trauma associated with that process
- introduce world-leading human rights legislation within this parliamentary session to incorporate, so far as possible within devolved competence, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This legislation will also include the right to a healthy environment, a right for older people to ensure equal access to their human rights so that they can live a life of dignity and independence, and an equality clause which provides equal access for everyone, including LGBTI people, to the rights contained within the Bill
- improve support for people at risk of destitution due to No Recourse to Public Funds, including through delivery of the Ending Destitution Together strategy. While recognising that the Scottish Government does not have powers to change UK-wide rules on No Recourse to Public Funds, no-one should be made destitute because of their immigration status
- aim to bring forward legislation to implement a ban on conversion therapy in Scotland, which is as comprehensive as is possible under currently devolved powers by the end of 2023, unless sufficiently comprehensive proposals are brought forward before then by either the UK Government or through the Scottish Parliament
We also agree:
- to further embed equality and human rights within all stages of the Scottish Government’s Budget process, taking account of the Equality Budget Advisory Group’s recommendations, to ensure our spend advances equality and human rights for all of Scotland’s people
- to develop and implement an equality and human rights strategy by the end of 2024 to ensure that equality and human rights are embedded in all we do, particularly in the economic support we provide and in our international activities. This will include the creation of a human rights impact assessment framework for all policy and legislative work
- that tackling gender based violence and sexual abuse should be priorities for all of Scottish society and that educational settings in particular should be safe spaces for all young people. We will ask the Gender Based Violence in Schools Working Group and the Harmful Sexual Behaviour Delivery Group to consider, together, the current evidence base and planned actions to address this very serious issue, and will adjust our approach accordingly. Having delivered the work of these groups, including guidance for schools, we will then commission an independent review to establish positive practice and further areas for improvement, during this parliamentary session. We recognise the work of the Young Women’s Lead Committee, Equally Safe and the findings of the PSE review in Scotland and look forward to seeing the work of the Gender Based Violence in Schools Working Group and the Working Group on Misogyny and Criminal Justice come to fruition over the coming year and during this parliamentary session
- that we are committed to preventing and eradicating all forms of gender-based violence by dedicating resources to tackle gender inequality, including pay inequality, unequal access to criminal and civil justice and financial support, and unequal access to public and social services that entrench dependency
- that we consider non-binary people to be members of the wider trans community, and will work to achieve improvements to their rights and wellbeing, along with those of all trans people. We support the Non-Binary Working Group and look forward to receiving their recommendations to improve non-binary equality next year. Following from that, we will develop an action plan by spring 2023, setting out how we will take forward their recommendations and our next steps in achieving equality for non-binary people
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