Social Renewal Advisory Board: our response

The Scottish Government’s initial response to the Social Renewal Advisory Board’s Report “If not now, when?”.

Our Response

The Scottish Government welcomes the ambitious and innovative Calls to Action set out in the Board's report. We recognise that a step change is needed if we are to build a fairer and stronger country after the pandemic, redressing the damage done to so many communities of identity and place by COVID-19, and make changes that deliver for all the people of Scotland.

The Board's report has been published only a few months before the Scottish Parliamentary elections, due in May 2021. As noted above, the Calls to Actions are far reaching and, in many cases, set stretching long-term aims. There is no doubt that some of the actions in the report are more straightforward and more immediately deliverable than others, but many will need extensive consideration, including consultation and co-design with communities. The challenge set by the Board is a large and complex one, which will require tough choices about future spend and investment, use of tax revenue, public service delivery and the safety nets that support the most vulnerable in society. Many of the actions will also require radical action and shifts in culture, values and behaviour if we want to achieve the wholesale system changes required. These choices and necessary changes require, and deserve, full and rigorous consideration, with sufficient time allowed for this work.

As there is insufficient time remaining in this parliamentary term for the current government to give full consideration to the recommended actions in the report, this responsibility will fall to the next government following the May 2021 elections. We expect any new government to consider what immediate actions can be taken now, based on the prospectus set out by the Board, and how it can set a direction of travel to ensure that the response to the Calls to Action have the necessary scale and impact to renew Scotland. This is likely to link to other related reports too, most notably that of the Citizens Assembly.

Current Ministers have made clear, that depending on the outcome of the election, they would want to meet with Board Members early in the next parliamentary term discuss to the Calls to Action and how to progress them.

The Board themselves recognise that, due to their scale and ambition, the delivery of a number of the Calls to Action will be across the next parliamentary term and beyond. However, they also recognise that some actions can be taken in the short-term and the next government will need to consider carefully how it achieves this.

We would expect all of the actions in the report to be revisited following the formation of the new government and decisions taken on if and/or how they might be fully realised.



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