‘We must be bold in our ambitions’.
Seizing the opportunities of the low carbon revolution, investing in future economic growth and improving the lives of all our young people will be central to the Scottish Government’s Programme for the coming year.
Outlining the Government’s priorities First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said action would be taken to phase out the need for petrol and diesel vehicles by 2032 and fast-track the development of a Scotland wide charging network. The FM also unveiled plans for a Scottish National Investment Bank to deliver long term financial support for innovative industries.
As part of the commitment to closing the poverty related attainment gap, the FM said an Education bill will be the centrepiece of the legislative programme for the year ahead, with major reforms also taking place in health and justice and a review of local democracy.
Other measures within the Programme for Government – which confirmed 16 new pieces of legislation - include:
- support for key business sectors including low carbon, screen, manufacturing and financial technology
- extending free personal care to all those under 65 who need it, known as ‘Frank’s Law’
- rolling out new social security powers as part of a package of measures to tackle inequality, child poverty, end rough sleeping, reduce drug deaths and provide free sanitary protection to students in school, college and university
- extending the presumption against short prison sentences to 12 months to break the cycle of offending and encourage the greater use of more effective community sentences
- record investment in the NHS and a pledge to lift the public sector pay cap for NHS and other public sector workers
- doubling the provision of free childcare
- Improving public health with action on air quality, increased investment in active travel and measures to restrict the marketing of fatty and sugary food and drink
- A discussion paper on the use of income tax in Scotland to support public services
The First Minister said:
“We live in a time of unprecedented global challenge and change.
“We face rapid advances in technology; a moral obligation to tackle climate change; an ageing population; the impact of continued austerity and deep seated challenges of poverty and inequality; and an apparent rise in the forces of intolerance and protectionism.
“These challenges are considerable, but in each of them we will find opportunity. It is our job to seize it. This Programme for Government is our plan to do that. Ensuring that we have a highly educated and skilled population, able to adapt to the needs of a rapidly changing economy, is vital to our future prosperity and our wellbeing.
“That is why improving education – and closing the attainment gap – is our number one priority. A good education is important for its own sake. It contributes to the health, happiness and fulfilment of all of us as individuals.
“But it is also vital to building a modern, successful, dynamic economy. To succeed, Scotland must lead change, not trail in its wake.
“We must aspire to be the inventor and the manufacturer of the digital, high tech and low carbon innovations that will shape the future, not just a consumer of them.
“To encourage others to see Scotland as the place to research, design and manufacture their innovations - for us to become a laboratory for the rest of the world in the digital and low carbon technologies we want to champion - we must also become early adopters of them. We must be bold in our ambitions.
“The programme that I have set out today, the policies and the legislation, is fresh, bold and ambitious – and because of that, aspects of it undoubtedly will be controversial.
“That is inevitable – indeed it is necessary. No one has ever built a better country by always taking the easy option. This programme is about equipping Scotland - not just for the next year - but for the next decade and beyond.”
The Programme for Government http://www.gov.scot/programme2017
New legislation announced for 2017-18 is:
Climate Change Bill
Crown Estate Bill
Land and Buildings Transaction Tax Bill
Management of Offenders Bill
Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility Bill
Organ and Tissue Donation Bill
Safe Staffing Bill
Sexual Offences (pardons and disregards) Bill
Vulnerable Witnesses and Pre-recorded Evidence Bill
Warm Homes Bill