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  • Writer's pictureThe YSI

Our plan for a stronger, fairer, greener Scotland

The Programme for Government 2020-2021 sets out our plan for a stronger, more resilient and greener economy – with a laser focus on creating new jobs, tackling child poverty and ending our contribution to climate change.

While suppressing COVID remains our most immediate priority – we must also accelerate our ambitions to build a better future for all.

The plans set out by Nicola Sturgeon in this Programme for Government seek to do exactly that. Here’s a summary.

Delivering a green recovery

  • We’re delivering a Green New Deal, driven by our responsibility to the planet and the enormous economic and social opportunities.

  • Our Green Jobs Fund will invest £100 million to support the creation of new green jobs right across Scotland, helping to drive our global leadership in tackling climate change.

  • We will also invest £60 million to de-carbonise our industrial and manufacturing sectors – helping them grow and diversify, help deliver net zero by 2045, and create more new jobs.

  • While greening our economy, we’re also tackling fuel poverty – with £1.6 billion from our Low Carbon Fund used to improve heat and energy efficiency, reduce emissions and deliver even more jobs.

Investing in our young people’s future

  • We are determined that youth unemployment will not be the legacy of this pandemic – that’s why we’re working hard to deliver a better future for Scotland’s young people.

  • Our new £60 million Youth Guarantee will guarantee every young person aged 16-24 a job, a place in training, or a place in education.

  • This is backed by additional funding for employers to recruit and retain apprentices, and the new Job Start Payment to help with the costs associated with starting a new job.

  • We’re also re-doubling our efforts to close the attainment gap – with £135 million of additional funding for schools this year – to ensure nobody is left behind regardless of the challenging times.

Creating the good jobs of tomorrow

  • In addition to our transformative Green Jobs Fund, the £25 million National Transition Training Fund will help up to 10,000 people of all ages retrain for jobs in high-growth sectors.

  • We are also doubling to £20 million our Flexible Workforce Development Fund, which helps employers address skills gaps.

  • COVID has brought about fundamental shifts to the way people work – and we will explore how to introduce greater flexibility over working patterns with a new Centre for Workplace Transformation.

Strengthening our capacity to suppress the virus

  • We’re making testing more accessible with new walk-in testing centres – 11 by the end of October and 11 more over the course of the winter – and strengthening Test and Protect to keep COVID firmly under control.

  • Later this month, we’re also launching Protect Scotland – our new proximity-tracing app to notify and give advice to those who tested positive for the virus.

  • We’re also ensuring we’re prepared for any second wave if it happens. This includes maintaining extra hospital and ICU capacity, replenishing PPE stocks and strengthening supply chains.

Bringing the NHS closer to our communities

  • To ensure people can access the right care, in the right place, at the right time – we’re accelerating the rollout of Pharmacy First and our Community Treatment and Assessment Centres.

  • What’s more, we’re scaling up the provision of digital health services, both physical and mental, to ensure more people can get the care they need in a way that suits them.

  • This includes a new 24/7 service, operated by NHS24, to help patients that are not in need of immediate emergency care to access clinical assessments before attending an A&E department.

Paving the way for a National Care Service

  • The experiences of this pandemic have shown the need to be bold and to build a care service fit for the future. That’s why Nicola Sturgeon has announced an immediate establishment of a comprehensive independent review of adult social care.

  • Fundamentally, it will examine and set out options for the creation of a high quality, world-leading National Care Service.

Tackling child poverty

  • On top of the support available through the Best Start Grant, our new Scottish Child Payment will launch in November and will be a game-changing step in our fight against child poverty – providing families with £10 a week for each child, initially for those under six, and when fully implemented, for those under 16.

  • During the winter, we will also start making payments through the Child Winter Heating Assistance Program – providing £200 per child for families of severely disabled children.

  • With our fairer, more compassionate welfare system, we’ve delivered eight different benefits for people across Scotland – four of which are new and don’t exist anywhere else in the UK, with the other four more generous than the UK benefits they replaced.

Delivering a digital revolution

  • Our £600 million R100 programme will make superfast broadband available to every home and business across the country – and we’re ensuring everyone has access to super fast broadband by the end of 2021.

  • We’re also working hard to eliminate digital exclusion by bringing 50,000 people into the digital world, through the establishment of Connecting Scotland.

  • By providing iPads and laptops with unlimited internet to people on low incomes, we’re helping to tackle the causes and consequences of poverty, and improving opportunities for those who need it most.

  • To meet our ambition for Scotland to lead the way in developing new technology and seizing the opportunities of the digital age, we’re establishing a network of tech incubators to mentor and train start-ups, establishing an ecosystem to help them succeed, and re-skilling people to help them find jobs in our growing digital industries.

Ending homelessness and building new affordable homes

  • We will continue to make ending homelessness a national priority, with the updated Action Plan and the scaling up of the Housing First approach, while also focusing on building more and more new homes.

  • We’re also extending the protection against eviction for rent arrears until March 2021, and establishing a new £10m Tenant Hardship Loan Fund to support tenants struggling to pay their rent because of COVID.

  • Scotland is leading the way in delivering affordable homes across the UK, and we’re working hard to deliver on our commitment to building 50,000 affordable homes – including 35,000 for social rent.

  • And later this year, we will publish a new 20-year vision for good quality, zero carbon housing with access to high quality community services, transport links and green spaces.

We could achieve so much more with independence – and Scotland will have a choice.

If this was a Programme for Government in an independent Scotland, we wouldn’t have to mitigate the damage of a hard Tory Brexit, waste billions on Trident nuclear weapons, or plead for another government to extend the furlough scheme.

That’s why we’re moving forward with giving Scotland the choice over our future – and before the end of this Parliament, we will publish a draft Bill setting out the proposed terms and timing of an independence referendum, as well as the proposed question that people will be asked in that referendum.

The 2021 Holyrood election will then be crucial – we will make the case for Scotland to become an independent country, and seek a clear endorsement of Scotland’s right to choose our own future.

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