Programme for Government 2022 to 2023

Focuses on creating a stronger and more resilient Scotland.

This document is part of a collection

The Programme for Government 2022‑23

The Cost Crisis

The cost crisis that now confronts us encompasses the sharp increases in the cost of living, in the cost of doing business and in the costs for other organisations including in the third and public sector. We are all facing the challenges of dealing with rates of inflation not seen in the last forty years.

The Scottish Government's immediate and overriding priority in this Programme for Government is to ensure households, businesses and other organisations, as well as the public services that support them, are protected from the worst impacts of the cost crisis.

We have already put in place a range of measures that will help to mitigate the cost crisis. But we recognise that, with the limited powers and resources available to us, we cannot mitigate anything close to the full impacts of this crisis. The powers and resources needed to fully mitigate the crisis have been reserved by the Westminster Parliament, so it is imperative that the UK Government now acts decisively to tackle the crisis. We are clear in what we are calling on the UK Government to do, including immediately increasing the Scottish Budget to match the rate of inflation. For our part, we will continue to do everything within our power to support Scotland through this crisis.

In addition to the measures that are already in place in Scotland, we are introducing further measures to help us though the difficult autumn and winter that lie ahead. At the same time we are continuing to take action that will help Scotland in the longer term, so that we emerge more resilient from this crisis and on a path toward achieving our ambitions for the economy and society, including our net zero ambition and our national mission to tackle child poverty. These actions are set out below.

By the end of March 2023, we will have allocated almost £3 billion in measures that will help to mitigate the impact of the cost crisis on households. This package spans a range of support for energy bills, childcare, health and travel, as well as social security payments that are either not available anywhere else in the UK or are more generous. It includes:

  • £294.4 million for family payments, including Bridging Payments, Best Start Grants, Best Start Foods and the Scottish Child Payment. The Scottish Child Payment alone has delivered an extra £20 a week to around 104,000 children under the age of 6. In November, this will be further increased to £25 per week and extended to an estimated 304,000 children under the age of 16.
  • £64 million of continued investment to extend universal provision of free school meals during term time – already available to those in Primary 1 to 3 – to children in Primary 4 and Primary 5 and alternative holiday meals provision for eligible children.
  • £300 million for concessionary travel, making bus travel free for over 2 million people in Scotland, including all children and young people under 22, disabled people and everyone over 60.
  • £437 million to reduce household bills through Council Tax Reduction and Water Charge Reduction.
  • Uprating 8 social security payments delivered by Social Security Scotland by 6%, compared to the 3.1% used for UK Government uprating.
  • Helping those in need this winter through our £214 Child Winter Heating Assistance which supports families of severely disabled children and young people with their energy costs.
  • Providing over £68.1 million this year to mitigate the UK Government "bedroom tax", and an additional £14.9 million to begin mitigating against the damaging impact of other UK Government welfare cuts including the benefit cap and changes to the Local Housing Allowance rates.
  • Investing a total of £161 million across Warmer Homes Scotland, Area Based Schemes, and Home Energy Scotland, cutting energy bills and climate emissions.

In addition, as businesses come under pressure, we have in place an existing package of financial reliefs worth over £800 million. This includes:

  • The UK's most generous Small Business Bonus Scheme which takes over 111,000 properties out of rates altogether (as at 1 June 2021).
  • And the lowest poundage in the UK for the fourth year in a row.

While the Scottish Government will do everything within its powers to tackle this crisis, under the current devolution settlement it is the UK Government that has the key powers that can significantly mitigate this cost crisis for households, businesses and broader society.

We are calling on the UK Government to cancel the October energy price cap rise and to increase and deliver an expanded support package which should:

  • Be most targeted to low-income households and those most negatively affected by cost increases (for example larger households, unpaid carers and disabled people). This may involve targeted payments through the benefits system.
  • Uprate all Social Security benefits to support low income households through the winter.
  • Provide a £25 uplift to Universal Credit and extend this to legacy benefits.
  • Broaden the Energy Profits Levy and remove the investment allowance. This would raise additional revenue to fund action on the cost crisis.

We are also working with Scottish businesses to press the UK Government for measures including:

  • Protection from energy price rises for SMEs.
  • A VAT reduction on business energy bills.
  • An expansion of shortage occupation lists to enable improvements in filling vacancies from overseas.
  • Support in handling business debt including the extension of the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and other loans.

Maximising financial assistance to those in need

Financial help is one of the most significant measures we can take to support households who are in difficulty or on low incomes.

By the end of 2022, our 5 family payments will be worth up to more than £10,000 by the time a family's first child reaches 6, and £9,700 for subsequent children.

Increasing the amount of the Scottish Child Payment – the most ambitious child poverty reduction measure in the UK – whilst also expanding it to thousands more families, is an important action that can mitigate the cost crisis.

This Programme for Government confirms that from 14 November this year the Scottish Child Payment will increase to £25 per week per eligible child. From that date, applications will also open for over 280,000 children aged between 6 and 15. This means that over 400,000 children in total will potentially be eligible for the increased payment. This will provide £1,300 of additional funding per eligible child per year, in addition to any financial support provided by the UK Government or other support provided by the Scottish Government. This means that over 100,000 children in low income households will have benefitted from a 150% increase in the Scottish Child Payment in just eight months.

Given the large number of children who will be newly eligible we are expecting significant volumes of applications. Extending the Scottish Child Payment from under-6s to under-16s is reliant on final checks on data that we need from the UK Government. People applying for the first time may therefore need to wait before receiving their initial payment, but can be reassured this will be backdated to the date we receive their application.

We are also awarding Best Start Grant, Early Learning Payment and School Age Payment automatically to eligible families in receipt of Scottish Child Payment, without the need to apply, increasing take-up and maximising financial assistance for families.

Through mitigating the benefit cap we will give further support for housing costs to up to 4,000 families with around 13,100 children. On average, the benefit cap takes away almost £2,500 per household per year. In Scotland, 97% of all households affected by the benefit cap are families with children, and 68% are lone-parent families. This financial support will help around 91,000 households sustain their tenancies, support not provided on this scale anywhere else in the UK.

We will also:

  • Subject to agreement with CoSLA, begin to roll out the provision of universal free school meals to Primary 6 and Primary 7 pupils, and take further action to reduce the cost of the school day for families, including reducing the cost of school uniforms through new guidance.
  • Use our Emergency Budget Review to double our Fuel Insecurity Fund to £20 million in 2022‑23, to help households at risk of self disconnection or self-rationing of energy use as the energy price cap rises from October.
  • Widen eligibility for the Tenant Grant Fund to support those struggling with increasing costs.
  • Introduce our new Winter Heating Payment which guarantees a £50 annual payment to around 400,000 low income households.
  • Continue to support more households with energy efficiency measures during this cost crisis, having widened the eligibility criteria of the Warmer Homes Scotland fuel poverty programme, increased funding for households through local authority led Area Based Schemes and expanded the Home Energy Scotland Advice Service.
  • Invest in a no-interest loan scheme pilot to help people in Scotland access affordable credit. The scheme will enable people on lower incomes who cannot afford to repay interest, even from community lenders, to access short-term credit to meet unexpected costs.
  • Prioritise urgent action this winter to strengthen cash-first support, and publish a plan, grounded in human rights, that sets out the actions we will take towards ending the need for food banks as a primary response to hardship reflecting the changing context as a result of the cost crisis.
  • Use our Emergency Budget Review to provide local authorities with additional Discretionary Housing Payment funding to mitigate the UK Government benefit cap as fully as possible within devolved powers, and give local authorities more flexibility to take account of energy bills in their prioritisation of households for Discretionary Housing Payments.

Help for tenants

While a large number of regulatory powers are reserved, there are actions we can take to reduce the hardship people will face and to create breathing space for those in difficulty, particularly those living in rented accommodation.

We have already taken action to further protect tenants through the Coronavirus (Recovery and Reform) Act, including making all mandatory eviction grounds discretionary, and we are currently developing a package of measures that help tenants facing increased rent costs and support people to stay in their homes.

There will be a new tenants' rights campaign showcasing existing rights and ensuring tenants are aware, for example, of their ability to challenge rent rises. We know that the current situation is causing anxiety for many households – and that many people may be missing out on support that is available to them. To help people understand the significant range of support that they may be able to access, we are preparing to launch a Scottish Government "cost of living" website to help people find out what support may be available depending on their own personal circumstances, for example for families with children.

We recognise the huge pressures the cost crisis is placing on households, and the particular issues that will be faced by many people who rent their home. Given the UK Government has not as yet provided sufficient support in response to the cost crisis, we are looking at all action we can take within devolved powers to support people in Scotland. As part of this we intend to introduce emergency legislation to protect tenants by freezing rents and imposing a moratorium on evictions until at least 31 March 2023. We also intend to act to prevent immediate rent increases.

We will also provide financial protection. From November, the minimum at which arrestments can be made on people's bank accounts will be raised to £1000, providing financial breathing space for many households in difficulty. We will also encourage local authorities to use their existing flexibilities to take a compassionate and proportionate response to arrears, taking account of the current pressures on household finances.

We will also introduce regulations that will help protect those who are paying debts through the Debt Arrangement Scheme, ahead of further legislation on bankruptcy and diligence.

Working with partners on an all Scotland approach

Over the summer we have begun work with a range of organisations and businesses either representing those in difficulty or able to offer support. This has included meetings with fuel poverty and poverty advisory groups, energy companies, financial services firms and business organisations.

The First Minister chaired an energy summit on 23 August between energy companies, the Scottish Government and third sector partners. As a result we are:

  • Providing £1.2 million of additional resource to advice organisations to support them to help households in difficulty and to help households and businesses access advice and support on energy efficiency.
  • Launching a Scotland-wide public information campaign to highlight help and support available to individuals as well as energy efficiency measures for households to minimise cost.
  • Continuing to support money and debt services with around £12.5 million provided in 2022‑23 to support debt advice, the Money Talk Team income maximisation service, Welfare Advice, and Welfare Advice and Health Partnerships.

A Stronger & More Resilient Scotland

We have focussed on the action we will take, to the best of our ability with the powers we have, to mitigate the impacts of the cost crisis and support people and businesses throughout Scotland.

Even as we go through this crisis, we must work to build a better future. Our vision for Scotland is as an independent country, fully taking its place in the world. We continue to work to deliver a choice for the people of Scotland on our constitutional future – equipping an independent Scotland with all of the powers we need to respond more fully to future crises.

Building on last year's Programme for Government and the Bute House Agreement, we have embarked on major reforms to help Scotland recover strength and resilience. In the year ahead we will continue to drive those reforms forward, delivering radical changes to improve the lives of people across the country. These reforms address a number of key challenges in our society.

On energy, a key component of the current cost crisis, our forthcoming Energy Strategy will set out ambitious plans to generate more power from our own renewable resources.

Our ScotWind programme sets out to provide seabed rights for potential development of almost 28 GW of offshore wind energy and the forthcoming onshore Wind Policy Statement and Vision for Onshore Wind in Scotland sets out how we can develop up to 12 GW of onshore wind.

Scotland has the potential to become a global green energy powerhouse, for Europe and beyond. Scotland's vast potential for renewable energy generation opens up opportunities for exporting electricity and green hydrogen, and attracting energy intensive industries.

Our Energy Strategy will also show how we can fulfil our net zero obligations in the energy sector and feed into our first Just Transition plan. This includes detailed analysis of the future pathway for oil and gas in Scotland.

The increase in renewable energy development and the transition to a net zero economy is just one significant economic opportunity we will work to capture for Scotland's benefit in the year ahead.

The climate crisis is not a far off, future problem. It is happening here, and now, and the impacts continue to increase in severity and frequency. The Met Office has warned of the major threat to our coastal communities posed by sea levels that are increasing by 3-5 mm a year – much faster than previously anticipated and more than double the rate in the early part of last century. We have also just witnessed some of the hottest summer days in Scotland's history.

In 2019 Scotland was one of the first countries in the world to declare a climate emergency. We are committed to using the powers and resources available to us to cut emissions, build climate resilience and restore Scotland's natural environment. The Bute House Agreement set out a bold, long-term programme of work to achieve this.

We have already made significant progress, including extending free bus travel to young people and establishing the nature restoration fund. We will continue to deliver this work, but we know we need to continue to step up delivery and integrate these priorities across the work of government. This will be driven forward through the new climate plan and biodiversity strategy, supported by our legislative programme which includes the introduction of the Circular Economy and Wildlife Management (Grouse) Bills in 2022‑23.

The UK Government, however, currently holds many of the fiscal and regulatory powers which are vital to Scotland becoming a net zero nation and economy. We should not have to rely on decisions taken by the UK Government in our response to the climate crisis. We will set out how independence can better enable us to achieve net zero emissions as part of the Building a New Scotland series later this year.

In the meantime, we will continue to deliver the changes which will underpin a greener, fairer Scotland, from doubling the electric car charging network, to consulting on legislation to transform how we heat our homes.

In March 2022, we published Scotland's 10-year National Strategy for Economic Transformation, which sets out our vision for the transition to a fairer, greener wellbeing economy. The Strategy identifies the priority areas of action which will help build a more productive, internationally competitive economy, growing prosperity for all of Scotland's people and places. Building on that, this Programme for Government sets out the actions we will take on entrepreneurship, new market opportunities, productivity, skills, and a fairer and more equal society.

This work will include boosting entrepreneurship by opening six tech scalers across the country within the next 12 months, to provide ground-breaking support for tech founders to scale up their businesses and create new jobs across the country.

The pandemic illustrated to everyone the importance of high quality and affordable social care, something which will also be important as the cost crisis develops. We are determined that the people of Scotland enjoy a high quality of life with community health and social care services available when they need them. The focus must be on prevention and early intervention to avoid people reaching crisis point.

The National Care Service is one of the most significant pieces of public service reform to be proposed by the Scottish Government. It is being designed together with people who have lived experience of accessing and delivering social care support services, and a human rights based approach is being embedded throughout its development and delivery. As the National Care Service Bill progresses through Parliament, it will pave the way for more integrated and person centred care, ending the postcode lottery of care that exists across Scotland under the current system.

This Programme for Government also continues our commitment to address drug deaths in Scotland. The Drug Deaths Taskforce (DDTF) reported in July providing an ambitious blueprint for change. Many of the DDTF's recommendations are already being acted on, backed by our annual £50 million National Mission, including expanding the naloxone programme and implementing Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) standards. This work includes £100 million to expand access to residential rehabilitation placements by 300% by 2026.

Addressing this public health emergency goes beyond improving treatment options, so we will also publish a cross-government action plan on tacking the broader inequalities experienced by people who use drugs. We will also publish an Anti-Stigma Plan that sets out the role we can all play in ending the exclusion that people who use drugs in Scotland experience on a daily basis.

We also know that Safer Drug Consumption Facilities have been shown to prevent fatal overdoses and encourage people to access longer-term help. An initial proposal, within the existing legal framework, has been shared with the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service for consideration. In the event of a positive outcome to work carried out by partners, we will quickly establish a Safer Drug Consumption Facility in Glasgow.

One of the most significant packages of reform we will make over the coming year is to our justice system, transforming our services and putting the needs of victims and survivors firmly at its centre. In February the Scottish Government published The Vision for Justice in Scotland: A Just, Safe, Resilient Scotland, with a focus on creating safer communities and shifting societal attitudes and circumstances which perpetuate crime and harm. This bold new vision will drive our approach to the justice system through the rest of this parliament.

The Criminal Justice Reform Bill which will be introduced this year will take forward a number of changes to our system. These will include ending the use of the not proven verdict and granting automatic anonymity to complainers in sexual offences cases. We will build on this by developing proposals to help challenge misogynistic behaviour and change attitudes, based on Baroness Helena Kennedy's recommendations for new criminal offences relating to misogynistic conduct.

Children also deserve extra care and protection in our justice system. The Children's Care and Justice Bill will help us Keep The Promise by ensuring that children who come into contact with care and justice services are treated with trauma-informed and age-appropriate support and will put an end to placing under 18s in Young Offenders' Institutions.

Scotland's commitment to delivering world class education and supporting our young people is evident through our consistently higher levels of spend per pupil than any other part of the UK. We are investing in more teacher posts than there have been at any time since 2008. Teacher numbers increased from 53,400 in 2020 to 54,285 last year. Building on the almost 900 new teachers recruited last year, we will continue our plans to recruit an additional 3,500 teachers this parliamentary term.

Our schools are in the best condition they have been since records began. Our £2 billion Learning Estate Investment Programme is delivering digitally enabled, low-carbon schools and campuses. Construction will start on 17 schools between now and August 2023, and we expect 4 schools to open to pupils this year.

However, we recognise that there is more to do and the lessons learned from educating young people during the pandemic present an opportunity to make changes.

We commissioned Professor Louise Hayward to conduct an independent review of Qualifications and Assessments which will be submitted to the Scottish Government in March 2023 and will pave the way for future reform to the qualification and assessment system in Scotland. That will build on the creation of new national bodies designed to meet the needs of learners, teachers and the economy. Our Education Reform Bill, to be introduced in this parliamentary year, will establish a new independent inspectorate and a new qualification body. High-level operating models for these, as well as for a new national agency for Scottish Education, will be developed by the end of 2022. A national discussion on education will be an unprecedented opportunity for pupils and students to shape the future based on their experiences. It will begin in September 2022 and report in Spring 2023, and as part of the National Strategy For Economic Transformation we will commission an independent review of the skills landscape.

We will further support families by investing £20 million this year in the design of an all-year-round school-age childcare system, and build the evidence base required to inform a high quality learning and childcare offer for 1 and 2 year olds.

Delivering reforms across our economy and our public sector is only one part of building a fairer and greener Scotland. The way we use our land, and who owns it, will take on increasing significance as we tackle the nature and climate crises. That is why we have already committed to a package of measures aimed at addressing long standing issues with the highly concentrated pattern of land ownership in rural areas of Scotland.

The public consultation on our Land Reform Bill will close on 25 September and we will introduce the measures proposed, building on that consultation, by the end of 2023. The Bill will include measures that aim to diversify land ownership and, in line with our broader just transition work, will empower communities to benefit from the opportunities that nature restoration and the journey to net zero emissions presents.

Our proposals include obliging owners of large scale landholdings to comply with the Land Rights and Responsibilities Statement and associated protocols, and to produce Management Plans setting out how they will use and manage their land. We propose the introduction of a Public Interest Test on transfers of large-scale landholdings. Our aim is that the Bill will help bring about a greater degree of accountability and address concerns that the benefits of investment in land and natural capital should be fairly shared.

To support communities to unlock these benefits we will double the Scottish Land Fund (from £10 million each year to £20 million) by 2026. In the year ahead, we will work with stakeholder organisations and communities to build the pipeline of projects to take advantage of the fund as it increases.

Children, Young People and Scotland's National Mission on Child Poverty

Our existing actions to tackle child poverty will support us to mitigate the impact of the cost crisis and, we believe, emerge from the crisis with the resilience and confidence to look to a better future, both for us and for the next generation.

In the next 12 months we intend to take forward key actions from Best Start, Bright Futures. In addition to the expansion of the Scottish Child Payment, we will:

  • Continue to deliver immediate financial support to as many low income families with school age children as possible through Bridging Payments, including a further two Bridging Payments which will support around 145,000 eligible children and be worth as a minimum £130 in both October and December.
  • Widen eligibility for Best Start Foods by legislating to remove all income thresholds from Best Start Foods in 2023‑24, supporting an additional 20,000 parents, and move to a cash payment instead of a payment card.
  • Award Best Start Grant, Early Learning Payment and School Age Payment automatically to eligible families in receipt of Scottish Child Payment, without the need to apply.
  • Develop a new Parental Transition Fund of up to £15 million each year to help tackle financial insecurity for families when parents and carers enter the labour market.
  • Work to develop a £200 per year payment, paid for up to 10 years, for all eligible 16 to 25 year olds with care experience to provide additional financial security as they transition towards more independent living.
  • Continue preparatory work to ensure every school-aged learner has access to a digital device by the end of this parliament.
  • Continue to make a significant investment – expected to be £349 million in 2022‑23 – in student support including tuition fees, bursaries for the poorest students and care experienced students, while progressing our work to increase student support in line with the Real Living Wage.
  • This year we will also provide over £68.1 million to mitigate the UK Government "bedroom tax", and an additional £14.9 million to begin mitigating against the damaging impact of other UK Government welfare cuts including the benefit cap and changes to the Local Housing Allowance rates.
  • Invest £20 million to design and test options for all-year-round school-age childcare systems that meet the needs of children and families.
  • Build the evidence base required to inform the development of a high quality offer of early learning and childcare for 1 and 2 year olds.
  • Set out the next steps in ensuring access to "Bairns' Hoose" services for all children referred for support.
  • Bring forward a Children's Care and Justice Bill to ensure that children who come into contact with the care and justice systems are treated with trauma-informed and age-appropriate support. This includes putting an end to placing under-18s in Young Offenders' Institutions.
  • Amend the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill to address the judgement of the Supreme Court and bring it back to the Scottish Parliament for Reconsideration Stage.

To support the next generation, we will:

  • Accelerate progress to substantially eliminate the poverty related attainment gap, through implementing a refreshed approach to the Scottish Attainment Challenge and an investment of up to £200 million.
  • Begin a national discussion on education, creating an unprecedented opportunity for pupils and students to shape the future based on their experiences. This will begin in September 2022, and report in Spring 2023.
  • Provide multi year funding to all local authorities to renew all public play-parks across Scotland.
  • Appoint a new Widening Access Commissioner and take further steps to shape the future of post school education, research and development.
  • Deliver The Promise Implementation Plan, including investment of £50 million of Whole Family Wellbeing Funding this year to ensure care experienced people feel that national and local government, and services they interact with (including schools, health boards, and the third sector), are listening and putting their voice into action.
  • Introduce an Education Reform Bill to establish world-class national bodies, focused on the needs of pupils, including work to ensure that our qualifications and assessment approach meets the needs of learners and provides support for those with additional support needs.
  • Pave the way for future reform to the qualification and assessment system in Scotland to ensure our approach meet the needs of learners and society in the 21st century, through Professor Hayward's independent review on Qualifications and Assessments in March 2023.
  • Explore the development of an accredited qualification and registration programme for Additional Support Needs assistants with final proposals to be brought forward by autumn 2023.
  • Start construction on 17 new schools and progress our commitment towards recruitment of students into Initial Teacher Education programmes, recruiting an additional 3,500 teachers, building on the increase of almost 900 new teachers last year.
  • Consider the increased costs for schools of heating and food as part of the Emergency Budget Review and the impact those higher costs will have on wider commitments.
  • Take forward the objectives set out in the National Strategy for Economic Transformation for a skills and education system that meets the demands of an ever-changing economy and society. To ensure the skills system meets these ambitions, we will commission an independent review of the skills landscape.

Excellent Public Services: Recovering Strongly from the Pandemic

At times of emergency, we rely on our public services, and they often come under increased pressure, particularly during the course of the pandemic. We also recognise that people working in the public and third sectors face the same cost of living challenges as others, while public services face increased costs for food, fuel and supplies, just like private businesses and third sector bodies.

Unlike the UK Government, we do not have the ability to borrow to fund increases in expenditure at times of crisis. Our public services have to operate within a fixed budget. As part of our Emergency Budget Review we will look at how best to apply finite resources to support the vital work of public services through this crisis while many organisations, including our National Health Service, continue to face the challenges of COVID as they work to recover from the pandemic.

In all of the work we undertake in our public services we will take a person centred approach to delivery and reform.

We will:

  • Eradicate waits of over 18 months in most specialities by the end of this year for outpatients and September next year for inpatients/day cases; and waits of more than 1 year in most specialities by March 2023 for outpatients and September 2024 for inpatients/day cases.
  • Invest £3 million this year through the long Covid Support Fund to assist those living with long-term effects of infection.
  • Open the next 4 National Treatment Centres within the next year – in NHS Fife, NHS Forth Valley, NHS Highland and NHS Golden Jubilee.
  • Invest a further £10 million to support cancer waiting times improvements.
  • Expand the number of Rapid Cancer Diagnostic Centres (formerly known as Early Cancer Diagnostic Centres).
  • Invest £50 million to help our NHS improve Accident & Emergency waiting times.
  • Publish a new Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy in the year ahead and a new long‑term suicide prevention strategy and delivery plan with CoSLA and develop a new dementia strategy.
  • Expand the mental health workforce, aiming to increase the capacity of the service so it can take on an additional 10,000 cases.
  • Invest a further £15 million in Children and Young People's Community Mental Health and Wellbeing, and an additional £15 million in the Communities Mental Health and Wellbeing Fund for adults.
  • Introduce a Public Health (Restriction of Promotions) Bill to restrict such promotions, to make it easier for people to spend less and make healthier food choices.
  • Continue work to reduce the public health emergency of drug deaths through our National Mission, increase the number of statutory funded residential rehabilitation placements by 300% by 2026, implement the Medication Assisted Treatment Standards, and publish a cross-government Action Plan.
  • Support progress of the National Care Service Bill through Parliament, paving the way for more integrated and person-centred care, ending the postcode lottery of care that exists across Scotland under the current system.
  • Deliver a £10.50 minimum wage for all adult social care staff in commissioned services, through funding of £200 million to local authorities.
  • Consult on proposals to restrict alcohol advertising and promotion later this year and, subject to the outcomes of the consultation, introduce legislation within the lifetime of this parliament.
  • Legislate for a Patient Safety Commissioner who will champion the voice of the patient within the patient safety system.
  • Appoint a Women's Health Champion to help drive forward all the actions in our Women's Health Plan, including on better diagnosis and treatment of endometriosis, and better access to information and support for menopause.
  • Continue to work in partnership with NHS Scotland to deliver improvement in delivery of, and access to, NHS gender identity services.
  • Support the development of national legislation, as quickly as practicable, subject to a forthcoming Supreme Court opinion, to safeguard access for women to healthcare facilities that provide abortion services, without fear, harassment or intimidation.
  • Introduce legislation to abolish the not proven verdict as part of a package of reforms to the criminal justice system.
  • Consult on legislative provisions to modernise justice processes including greater use of digital processes.
  • Consult on specific draft laws to tackle misogynistic criminal behaviours, improving the experience and transparency of the justice system for women and victims of misogyny, with a view to introducing a Misogyny and Criminal Justice Bill later in this Parliament.
  • Introduce a Bill on Police Complaints and Misconduct Handling to provide greater transparency, improve safety and empower citizens.
  • Introduce legislation to provide a modern legal services regulatory framework for Scotland, promoting competition and innovation in an efficient and independent legal sector, while placing consumer interests at its heart.
  • Set out the next steps in ensuring access to "Bairns' Hoose" services for all children referred for support.

Transforming Our Economy

In order to emerge strongly from this economic crisis, we will focus on delivering our National Strategy for Economic Transformation, and work with the business community to identify the most effective support we can offer them.

We will also use our commitment to transition to a net zero economy to ensure that we make progress on key strategic projects and infrastructure investments that will help Scotland's economy to emerge strongly from any recession.

We remain committed to the vision for Scotland to be a leading Fair Work nation by 2025. Payment of the Real Living Wage – while we recognise this is a cost for businesses – is all the more important now as a way of supporting those in low pay jobs through the cost crisis and is an important enabler for sustaining productive, committed and engaged workforces during these difficult times. On the broader Fair Work agenda we stand by the commitments set out in the National Strategy for Economic Transformation.

We will:

  • Implement the National Strategy for Economic Transformation focusing on measures that will most support the economy through any recession.
  • Fund the Scottish National Investment Bank to continue to develop its portfolio across all three of its missions: net zero emissions, place and innovation.
  • Boost entrepreneurship by opening six tech scalers across the country to provide ground breaking support for tech founders to scale up their businesses and to create new jobs across the country.
  • Respond swiftly to the whole system review being undertaken by Ana Stewart, leading entrepreneur and investor, on identifying the barriers facing women in business.
  • Progress two Greenports which will support businesses in creating new and green jobs, and which will promote regeneration, trade, investment and manufacturing innovation.
  • Work with the business community to identify further measures that can assist in addressing the increased costs and economic disruption that they face.
  • Intensify the work to realise the trade, export and inward investment opportunities that are critical for Scotland's economic success.
  • Continue the £34 million Scottish Industrial Energy Transformation Fund where we co-invest with manufacturing industries to decarbonise industrial processes.
  • Use our trade and investment plans to set the direction on new market opportunities, attracting the high quality investment and technologies needed and supporting the export potential in key sectors identified in the National Strategy for Economic Transformation.
  • Establish an investor panel, led by the First Minister, to convene investors to discuss how they are investing in the infrastructure that Scotland needs to ensure a just transition to net zero emissions.
  • Undertake a review of how best to significantly increase the number of social enterprises, employee-owned businesses and cooperatives in Scotland.
  • Launch a consultation on Community Wealth Building legislation.
  • Undertake research and advice to improve workplace productivity and wellbeing, including on the delivery of a four-day working week pilot and ensure that digital and technological innovation is used as a key driver for improved productivity and work standards/conditions.
  • Publish a refreshed Fair Work Action Plan and introduce Fair Work conditionality for Scottish Government grants, subject to devolved competence.
  • Support enhancements to Scotland's digital infrastructure – by incentivising commercial deployment, targeting our own investment through for example the Reaching 100% (R100) broadband roll out and urging the UK Government to extend gigabit and mobile networks to some of our most rural communities, given telecommunications is an entirely reserved matter.

Tackling the Climate Emergency

Addressing the cost crisis is not, and should not be viewed as, separate from addressing the ongoing climate and nature crises.

We have capitalised on our significant offshore renewables resource by launching the world's largest floating offshore wind leasing round through ScotWind, putting Scotland at the forefront of the global development of offshore wind. This builds on our status as a world leader in the development and deployment of wave and tidal energy technologies, putting our nation at the cutting edge of offshore renewables. ScotWind represents a massive step forward in our net zero transformation.

As the development of renewable energy will help to reduce energy price fluctuations and costs, so better use of our natural resources through a wider package of ambitious measures can also reduce costs and help households and businesses to save money.

Over the next year we will take key actions in transport, in the economy and in how we use our land and protect our natural environment to help reduce costs and meet our climate change and nature targets. Improving our natural environment also supports people's wellbeing, creating spaces and activities that can be enjoyed at low or no cost and enhance our mental health.

To support the rapid decarbonisation of our energy system, homes and buildings, and a just transition to net zero, we will:

  • Publish an Energy Strategy and our first Just Transition Plan, providing a roadmap for the energy sector's journey towards achieving our emissions reduction targets and securing a net zero energy system for Scotland.
  • Develop a new hydrogen industry in Scotland with the publication of the final Hydrogen Action Plan and a Scottish Hydrogen Investment Proposition, setting out Scotland's position on the manufacture, production and export of hydrogen, and a compelling case for investment. The Action Plan is supported by a £100 million capital funding programme, designed to accelerate and maximise production.
  • Facilitate the development of an offshore wind supply chain to make good on commitments averaging approximately £1.4 billion of investment per project, as part of the potential development of almost 28 GW of offshore wind energy through ScotWind.
  • Publish the final Onshore Wind Policy Statement and a Vision for Onshore Wind in Scotland enabling up to 12 GW of onshore wind to be developed.
  • Continue to support the development of the wave and tidal sector, which represents a major economic and climate opportunity for Scotland.
  • Launch a virtual Public Energy Agency to drive forward increased investment in energy efficiency and zero emission heating.
  • Replace the cashback element of the Home Energy Scotland funding offer with a standalone grant.
  • Launch a £25 million Clyde Mission Heat Decarbonisation Fund later this year, supporting zero emission heat projects and communal heating systems along the length of the Clyde.
  • Develop a Just Transition Plan for the Grangemouth Industrial Cluster.
  • Support over 20 projects through our Just Transition Fund for the North East and Moray with a total value of over £50 million over 4 years, with £20 million allocated this year.
  • Improve the content and extend the scope of our Green Jobs Workforce Academy and develop a refreshed Climate Emergency Skills Action Plan by the end of 2023.
  • Publish a consultation on the Heat and Buildings Bill.

To deliver our vision of an affordable, zero carbon and modern transport system, we will:

  • Freeze ScotRail fares until March 2023, and complete a Fair Fares Review – delivering options for a sustainable and integrated approach to all public transport fares.
  • Consult on a new Islands Connectivity Plan this year, progress the small vessel development programme and continue to improve the resilience of the ferry fleet by sourcing additional vessels. We will publish the independent review of ferry governance arrangements, and set out how we can provide stronger accountability, transparency, and good outcomes for our island communities.
  • Test a new mobility and scrappage scheme to help low income households to replace a polluting vehicle with the means to travel sustainably.
  • Deliver record investment in active travel, including multi year funding, with a focus on new infrastructure and storage, access to bikes through schemes such as the Scotland Cycle Repair Scheme 2 and free bikes for school‑age children who are unable to afford one.
  • Work with the private sector to deliver £60 million of public and private investment to double the size of the public charging network to at least 6,000 electric vehicle charging points over the next 4 years.
  • Work with third sector partners and local authorities to consider how best to provide free bus travel to asylum seekers and refugees including displaced people from Ukraine.
  • Further promote free bus travel for those under 22 to improve uptake following the introduction of the scheme in January 2022. This scheme supports children and young people to travel for free, lifting the cost burden on households.
  • Continue the Network Support Grant to support bus services by keeping fares at more affordable levels and networks more extensive.
  • Roll out our national strategy for expanding 20 mph zones, with more roads and areas reducing their speed limits to 20 mph – making our streets feel safer and encouraging active travel.
  • Introduce regulations to enable bus franchising and Bus Improvement Partnerships, giving local authorities more options to improve bus services.
  • Work with women's groups to identify and publish recommendations on women and girls' personal safety on public transport to support future access and usage of public transport.

To accelerate our transition to a circular economy and modernise Scotland's waste and recycling services, we will:

  • Launch our Deposit Return Scheme on 16 August 2023, introducing a refundable 20p deposit on billions of single-use containers, the first of its kind in the UK.
  • Bring forward a Circular Economy Bill, enabling us to advance a zero waste and circular economy by increasing reuse and recycling rates, and improving waste and recycling services.
  • Publish a National Litter and Flytipping strategy that includes strengthened enforcement measures and a clamp down on unlicensed operators.

Restoring Our Environment

The Scottish Government is committed to reversing biodiversity decline and restoring Scotland's natural environment. This year sees the UN Biodiversity Conference (COP 15), when the world will come together to commit to reversing biodiversity loss. We are determined that Scotland be at the forefront of this effort, using our powers to secure investment in nature restoration, support farmers and land managers to protect and enhance biodiversity, and to ensure our most important places on land and sea are protected for current and future generations.

We will:

  • Develop our Land Reform Bill, which will include measures to diversify land ownership and empower communities to benefit from the opportunities presented by nature restoration and the journey to net zero emissions.
  • Launch a consultation to seek views on the evaluation framework which will be used to identify where Scotland's next new national park or parks will be located.
  • Launch our Biodiversity Strategy and continue supporting people and projects across Scotland to restore and enhance our natural environment through the £13 million Nature Restoration Fund, completing the establishment of the peatland restoration programme, and take action to stimulate responsible private investment in the restoration of nature and enhancement of Scotland's natural capital.
  • Enhance the Forestry Grant Scheme to deliver better community engagement, improved biodiversity and increased value for money, including improved support for tree planting around rivers and streams.
  • Develop a framework to deliver our commitment to protect 30% of land and sea for nature by 2030, including the development of Nature Networks.
  • Consult on a new flooding strategy for Scotland, including how we can build community flood resilience and engage a broader range of delivery partners to deliver more diverse flood management actions faster.
  • Work with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), abstractors and others to ensure the right strategic approach to water scarcity is in place to build on the lessons from our experiences this summer.
  • Develop Scotland's next statutory Climate change adaptation programme for publication in 2024. Over the remainder of 2022 and through 2023 we will work with local authorities, public bodies, communities, the private sector and other stakeholders to develop enhanced approaches to building Scotland's resilience to climate change.
  • Implement new licensing arrangements to encourage those fishing Scottish seafish to increase the volume of valuable species processed in Scotland, increasing the economic benefit from those fishing the Scottish seafish quota.
  • Take steps to introduce Highly Protected Marine Areas covering at least 10% of our waters by 2026, and consult on fisheries management measures for both offshore and inshore Marine Protected Areas and on Priority Marine Features.
  • Start the process of developing a new National Marine Plan, to address the global climate and nature crises by carefully managing increasing competition for space and resources in the marine environment.
  • Develop a Vision for Sustainable Aquaculture with enhanced emphasis on environment and community benefit, and continue to progress the regulatory review of aquaculture and measures to tackle environmental impacts associated with aquaculture, including SEPA's implementation of a new sea lice risk assessment framework. and support for local authorities to guide development to the right places through spatial planning.

To support the development of a thriving farming sector, we will:

  • Explore capping and/or tapering base-level payments to release additional funding to meet the goals of our agricultural vision, including the urgent actions required to reach net zero emissions.
  • Align behind our Vision for Agriculture, including consulting on a future Agriculture Bill, rolling out the National Test programme and moving towards shifting 50% of direct payments to climate action and funding for on-farm nature restoration and enhancement by 2025.
  • Create new crofting opportunities through delivery of the National Development Plan for Crofting and continue working with stakeholders to look at legislative reform options to support the future of crofting and all of the benefits it brings to rural and remote rural mainland and island communities.
  • Invest in advice and skills for farmers and crofters to support a just transition and act on the recommendations provided by the independent Commission on land-based learning.
  • Update Catering for Change, which will set out principles in relation to sustainable procurement of food and catering services in the public sector, to align public procurement behind sustainable, low carbon farming and food.
  • Establish a dedicated Food Security Unit within the Scottish Government with a view to monitoring ongoing supply chain vulnerabilities and linking with future food security work.

Supporting Our Communities

While this Programme for Government sets out actions we are already taking to help people through the cost crisis immediately facing us, we will also continue to deliver action that will boost the resilience of people and communities for the longer term, supporting people to live in better, more energy efficient homes and to be valued and active participants in our communities.

We will work to reduce marginalisation and discrimination of people in our society who often find they experience even greater hardship during times of difficulty. Our work to promote equality and human rights supports our ambition for supporting strong communities that are inclusive, empowered, resilient and safe, where human rights are respected.

To support our communities, we will:

  • Deliver the first year of the Adult Disability Payment, our replacement for the Department for Work and Pensions' Personal Independence Payment, following national introduction on 29th August.
  • Continue to deliver affordable high quality homes, the majority for social rent, as we start delivery of our ambitious target of 110,000 such homes by 2032.
  • Introduce a new Housing Bill before the end of this parliamentary year that will see further reform of the rental sector in Scotland and begin to deliver a New Deal for Tenants. Careful consideration will need to be given to the impact of addressing the cost crisis, which we will do by introducing emergency legislation planned to protect tenants by freezing rents and imposing a moratorium on evictions until at least 31 March 2023. The exact timings of a new Housing Bill will be kept under close review as we deliver our emergency response to support tenants through the winter months.
  • Support more households with energy efficiency measures during this cost crisis having widened the eligibility criteria for the £55 million Warmer Homes Scotland fuel poverty programme to include more groups within the 60 to 75 years age range, further increasing the reach of this programme.
  • Publish our Remote, Rural and Island Housing Action Plan to support the provision of homes in these areas, including consideration of funding arrangements for community housing trusts to ensure they can support the delivery of our enhanced rural home building plan.
  • Provide a New Deal for Tenants with an ambitious series of reforms of the renting sector, including legislation to introduce robust rent controls for the long term, building on immediate actions during the cost crisis.
  • Continue development of our world-leading Human Rights Bill and consult on our proposals for the Bill.
  • Publish a new Hate Crime Strategy for Scotland.
  • Develop a Bill to end conversion practices, covering both sexual orientation and gender identity.
  • Increase the transparency and accountability of Scotland's vital charity sector through our Charities (Regulation) Bill.
  • Deliver our commitment to invest £60 million to renew play-parks in Scotland.
  • Continue to invest up to £75 million in place based initiatives, which supports our most fragile communities and accelerate our ambitions for place and to help people live well locally.
  • Agree a New Deal between the Scottish Government and local government, including a fiscal framework, which will support:
    • Working together to achieve better outcomes for people and communities especially on national priorities including addressing poverty, inequality, and supporting the economy.
    • Balancing greater flexibility over financial arrangements with improved accountability.
    • Providing certainty over inputs, outcomes and assurance, alongside scope to innovate and improve services.
    • Recognising the critical role played by local authorities in tackling the climate emergency, for example through delivering our heat and buildings, waste, active travel and nature restoration goals.

Scotland in the World

While many of the challenges Scotland faces are shared by countries across Europe and the wider world, they are exacerbated for Scotland within the UK by the limitations devolution places on the powers, responsibilities, and finances of the Scottish Government, the impacts of leaving the European Union, and the inaction of the UK Government in the face of the cost crisis.

These experiences underline why we believe Scotland should have the opportunity to choose to become an independent country. If the UK Supreme Court determines that a referendum is within the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament, we will introduce a Referendum Bill to enable a referendum on 19 October next year.

Now and in the future, being an open international country is central to Scotland's success. That means fulfilling our international obligations as well as securing the benefits that come from trade, tourism and cultural engagement.

Following the illegal Russian invasion of Ukraine, Scotland has stepped up to show our commitment to supporting people in difficulty, building on our previous support for refugees from countries such as Syria and Afghanistan.

Since the conflict began, and up to 30 August 2022, almost 17,000 people with a Scottish sponsor have arrived here, which is 18% of all UK arrivals. Over 12,000 of these arrivals are through our successful "super sponsor" scheme.

The next year will also see us continue to support cultural activities, including many that are free to access, and our cultural community as it recovers from and adapts to the challenges of COVID and EU exit.

We will:

  • Offer a warm Scottish welcome to displaced Ukrainians fleeing conflict, almost 17,000 of whom have already come to Scotland.
  • Provide funding of £300,000 over the next two financial years to The HALO Trust, a Scottish-based charity specialising in removing landmines and other dangerous explosive devices, helping build capability to continue this work including a focus on employment of women.
  • Launch a Talent Attraction and Migration Service in 2023 to support people moving to Scotland and Scottish based employers.
  • Deliver on our clear mandate to offer the people of Scotland the choice of independence, by working to establish a process for a legal, constitutional and democratic referendum.
  • Continue to publish our Building a New Scotland papers to give the people of Scotland the information they need to make an informed choice about whether to become independent.
  • Increase Scotland's International Development Fund to £15 million and provide £36 million to support climate justice over this parliamentary term.
  • Support a new Vaccine Equity Dashboard, owned by our partners in the Global South, empowering a community-led monitoring approach to expand access to safe and effective vaccines.
  • Continue to support our national museums and galleries to ensure they remain free to access, of particular importance during the current crisis.
  • Publish a response to the report of our working group on Institutionalising Participatory and Deliberative Democracy, setting out how we can involve people and communities, government, and children and young people in democratic decision making.
  • Refresh our Culture Strategy Action Plan.
  • Bring forward a Scottish Languages Bill in this parliamentary term, and explore the creation of a Gàidhealtachd; a designated area in Scotland with a high proportion of Gaelic speakers to receive additional support to sustain use of the language.
  • Host the UCI Cycling World Championships, the first time road, track and mountain bike races have been held under one event, and consider a bid for the EURO 2028 championships.



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