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A nation with ambition: the Government's Programme for Scotland 2017-2018

The Programme for Government 2017 to 2018 sets out the actions we will take in the forthcoming year.

124 page PDF

3.5MB

124 page PDF

3.5MB

Contents
A nation with ambition: the Government's Programme for Scotland 2017-2018
Chapter 3: Building A Fairer Scotland

124 page PDF

3.5MB

Chapter 3: Building A Fairer Scotland

We want our communities to be genuinely empowered and inclusive, places where individuals and diverse groups can overcome social inequalities and go on to thrive in an open and tolerant society.

By empowering individuals with a firm set of rights and the support of a genuine social security system and providing communities with the ability to use their own assets, skills and networks to build and design services, we can address many deep-rooted social and economic injustices.

To achieve this, we will deliver a social security system based on dignity and respect, tackle child poverty, ensure greater supply of affordable homes and support those who are homeless or living chaotic lives to play a full role in their communities. We will also examine how new and innovative ideas, such as a citizen's basic income, might work and help to tackle ingrained inequalities.

As part of this approach, we will also look at how decisions are made in all of our communities and, through the Scottish Land Commission, consider a range of proposals to ensure that we make the most of our land - a vital resource - in a way that benefits everyone.

Social security

In June, we introduced Scotland's first Social Security Bill. This Bill will enable us to take forward our commitments on the devolution of social security powers and provides the framework for a comprehensive and joined-up system that puts dignity and respect at its heart. The Bill:

  • provides for the delivery of 11 existing social security benefits as part of a devolved Scottish system
  • embeds in legislation the principles of the Scottish system, including a commitment to a human rights based approach
  • sets out the basic machinery of social security, from applications to appeals
  • defines the types of assistance that we will provide

In April 2017, we announced how the new social security agency will operate. The configuration of the agency will be confirmed this autumn. Work is continuing on the recruitment of at least 1,500 members of staff to work there.

We will deliver the manifesto commitment to increase Carer's Allowance from next summer, backdating it to April 2018. After that, the first benefits to be devolved will be the Best Start Grant and Funeral Expense Assistance. We will deliver improved versions of these existing UK benefits by summer 2019. In the coming year, we will announce a package of support for young carers, which will include financial and non-financial elements.

The Best Start Grant ( BSG) will be the first benefit to be paid by the new agency. The BSG is a central part of our commitment to parents and children, providing support to those who need it at the key points in a new baby and young child's life. We have designed the benefit to make sure that the people who need it, both in and out of work, can access it as easily as possible. To do this, we will improve on the Department for Work and Pensions ( DWP) Sure Start Maternity Grant by:

  • extending eligibility to anyone on a tax credit or housing benefit (in addition to existing qualifying benefits) so that they can apply and receive a payment before their baby is born
  • not requiring parents who are under 18 to be on a qualifying benefit, making it easier for them to apply
  • providing longer periods of time for people to apply so that they have more time to become aware of and access BSG
  • integrating BSG with Healthy Start Vouchers so that parents complete one simple application process rather than two

Universal Credit remains reserved to the UK Government. However, the Scotland Act 2016 allows the Scottish Ministers to adjust when and to whom Universal Credit is to be paid. Regulations coming into force on 4 October 2017 will give Scottish applicants more choice over how payments are made; in particular, to allow for twice‑monthly payments and managed payments to landlords. These regulations demonstrate our commitment to making full use of every power devolved to us.

Following the UK Government's decision to end entitlement for housing costs within Universal Credit for young people aged 18‑21 years old, we have extended the Scottish Welfare Fund ( SWF), on an interim basis, both to help 18‑21 year olds adversely affected by the changes, and to support landlords.

Social security - a new approach to designing public services

The Scottish approach to designing services ensures that future digital services will more accurately reflect user needs and be more flexible and able to adapt to change. For example, to inform the design of Scotland's new social security agency and services, we have 2,400 people from across Scotland signed up for our Experience Panels. People with direct personal experience of the social security system will help shape the way we work. We are committed to making this model the way forward for all service design. We are clear that public sector services should be designed with, not for, the people who will use them.

Tackling Poverty

Poverty and Inequality Commission

Building on the contribution of the Independent Poverty Advisor, we have established a Poverty and Inequality Commission to provide advice and challenge to the Government on actions to address poverty.

We are exploring ways to put the Commission on a statutory footing with a broad remit that enables it to consider the full range of factors that contribute to levels of poverty and inequality in Scotland.

Child poverty

Our Child Poverty Bill sets targets aimed at eradicating child poverty. Our first plan to deliver against these targets will be published in April 2018 and local areas will publish their own annual plans from 2019 onwards, in some cases building on local Fairness Commission recommendations.

We want to trial new approaches, strengthen the evidence base and support innovation at both national and local levels, so we are establishing a Tackling Child Poverty Fund, worth £50 million over the next five years. We will take advice from the Poverty and Inequality Commission on where this funding can have the biggest impact at national and local level. This innovation fund is only one element of the 2018 delivery plan. We will also ask the Commission to provide advice on the potential impact and suitability of using powers to top up benefits, for example child benefit, to alleviate child poverty.

Generational equality and opportunities for young people

In July 2017, the First Minister's Independent Advisor on Poverty and Inequality published a report making 18 recommendations on improving the life chances of young people. Particular focuses are mental health, employment, and housing. Throughout the Year of Young People 2018, we will begin to implement the advisor's recommendations and will keep Parliament updated on our progress as well as ensuring a role for young people in guiding our actions. We will also discuss the progress we are making with the Poverty and Inequality Commission. In 2019, we will publish an update setting out the progress made to date as part of our annual Fairer Scotland progress report.

Citizen's basic income

Several Scottish local authorities are considering how they can pilot elements of a citizen's basic income, a radical form of social assistance. One of its attractions is that it may help those on the lowest incomes back into work or help them work more hours, while providing an unconditional 'basic income' as a safety net. We believe that bold and imaginative projects like this deserve support but we also recognise that the concept is currently untested. Therefore, we will:

  • establish a fund to help these local authorities areas develop their proposals further and establish suitable testing
  • ask the Poverty and Inequality Commission to consider how it could help to draw together findings from local authorities to inform the government's thinking

Access to financial advice

In 2018, we will start the roll-out of a Family Financial Health Check Guarantee aimed at those on low incomes.

This first phase will offer low-income families with children access to a 'financial MOT', including advice on benefit eligibility and managing money. We want those families who have most to gain to be helped to claim all that they are entitled to. The guarantee will also help families access the best deals on financial products and services, and on energy bills. We will ensure that the families in most need know about this service and are encouraged to use it.

Credit unions

We will continue to support Scotland's credit union sector so that even more people have access to affordable and ethical alternatives to high-street banking and payday loans.

The Junior Savers Scheme partners credit unions with local schools to improve financial literacy among young people. By the end of 2017-18, we aim to have 40 new partnerships in schools right across Scotland.

We will also work to deliver a national credit union awareness raising campaign, which will include collaborating with sector representatives to identify opportunities for targeted local activity on funeral poverty.

Access to sanitary products

Being able to access sanitary products is fundamental to securing equality, dignity and rights across the whole of public policy. We will introduce a scheme to fund access to free sanitary products in schools, colleges and universities and consider action to support those on low incomes, but not in education, in light of the findings of the current pilot scheme in Aberdeen.

Homelessness

It is not acceptable in a modern and wealthy country like Scotland for people to be rough sleeping or spending extended periods of time in temporary accommodation. Strong rights for those who face homelessness are enshrined in law, but too many people struggle to access accommodation or the services they need.

We want to change that. We are setting a clear national objective to eradicate rough sleeping in Scotland and transform the use of temporary accommodation. We will:

  • establish a Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group to lead change in this area and identify responses on the actions, services and legislative framework required to end rough sleeping and transform the use of temporary accommodation. The Action Group's work will be informed by the views of those with direct personal experience of homelessness
  • create a five year £50 million Ending Homelessness Together Fund to support anti-homelessness initiatives and pilot new innovative solutions to drive further and faster change

In autumn 2017, we will take steps to reduce the time that households with pregnant women or children can spend in unsuitable accommodation from 14 to 7 days. We will also develop guidance on standards in temporary accommodation for homeless households.

Housing

We will deliver at least 50,000 affordable homes over the lifetime of this Parliament, 35,000 of which will be for social rent. More than £1.75 billion is being allocated to councils over the next three years to deliver our ambitious target.

In this financial year over £590 million is available to increase the supply of affordable homes across Scotland through our commitments to local authorities and also demand-led national schemes such as the Open Market Shared Equity scheme and the Rural and Islands Housing Fund. A budget increase of over £100 million in 2016-17 has led to more than 10,000 new housing units being approved in the first year of the target period: a record-breaking level.

We will also support up to 3,500 households this financial year into affordable home ownership, including approximately 2,500 first-time buyers, with assistance from our Help to Buy and other shared equity schemes. The total investment for these schemes in this financial year is £135 million.

Our Rental Income Guarantee Scheme, launching this year, seeks to attract new institutional investment to Scotland by sharing a limited proportion of the letting risk with participating members. Potential investment in the emerging Build-to-Rent market in Scotland is estimated to be in the region of £500 million over the next five years, supporting 2,500 new homes.

The Scottish Empty Homes Partnership has brought over 2,400 homes back into use to date. We will double our funding, helping local authorities to provide and sustain Empty Homes Officer support in every part of Scotland.

Self‑build and custom‑build homes

To diversify the ways in which we deliver homes, we will support the increased delivery of self‑build and custom‑build homes and expand the options available and provide more flexibility for both individual homeowners and the construction industry.

This will include Simplified Planning Zones for housing, in recognition of the significant opportunities for the self‑build and custom‑build sector.

Reform of the planning system

The review of the planning system highlighted the importance of infrastructure to unlock opportunities for development and housing supply. We will introduce a Planning Bill to improve the system of development planning, give people a greater say in the future of their places and deliver planned development.

Our proposals for planning reform include actions to support inclusive growth and investment such as a new approach to Simplified Planning Zones, modernising Compulsory Purchase Orders and building on our eDevelopment services with the Digital Taskforce. We will review the National Planning Framework and strengthen its alignment with wider strategies and programmes, use new powers to restrict the over‑provision of betting shops and payday lenders on our high streets, explore how food outlets in the vicinity of schools can be better controlled and work with local authorities to support people to live an active lifestyle through access to walking, cycling and places to participate in physical activity.

Land and Buildings Transaction Tax ( LBTT)

In setting rates and bands for LBTT, we will continue to help both first‑time buyers and home movers to progress through the market. Since the introduction of LBTT we have, by setting a nil rate threshold of £145,000, kept around 20,000 additional house purchases out of tax compared to UK Stamp Duty Land Tax ( SDLT). We expect to take up to a further 10,000 house purchases out of tax in 2017‑18, helping people into home ownership.

We have also introduced secondary legislation to provide relief from the LBTT Additional Dwelling Supplement ( ADS) and allow for repayment of the Supplement in relation to certain transactions involving joint purchase by spouses, civil partners or co‑habitants. A Bill will be introduced to the Scottish Parliament to give retrospective effect to this change.

High rise housing following the Grenfell Tower fire

The tragic consequences of the fire at Grenfell Tower in London on 14 June understandably raised concerns for the safety of residents in high rise buildings in Scotland. We moved quickly to establish a Ministerial Working Group on Building and Fire Safety to co-ordinate responses in Scotland to the investigations into the cause and spread of the fire.

Scottish building standards are devolved and the Aluminium Composite Material cladding suspected of contributing to the spread of the fire at Grenfell is not permitted for use on high rise tower blocks in Scotland. While we are confident that in Scotland we have stringent building and fire safety regulations, public safety is of paramount importance and the working group agreed a work programme including:

  • reviews of the current building standards and the fire safety regulatory framework, bringing forward a planned consultation on fire and smoke alarms in Scottish homes
  • a targeted fire safety campaign for residents of high rise buildings

The Working Group continues to work with UK Government, other devolved administrations, local government, NHS boards, other relevant partners and affected residents in taking this work forward. We will use all evidence gathered in relation to this tragic accident to ensure we maintain the highest possible standards of safety for buildings in Scotland.

Energy efficiency and fuel poverty

Our ambitions to improve the energy efficiency of Scotland's buildings are also central to our efforts to tackle fuel poverty. That's why this year we will introduce a Warm Homes Bill to set a new statutory target for fuel poverty and determine how supplier obligations in relation to energy efficiency and fuel poverty are designed and implemented in Scotland.

We will accelerate our work on Scotland's Energy Efficiency Programme ( SEEP), to be rolled out from 2018. SEEP makes energy efficiency a national infrastructure priority and seeks to decarbonise heat provision over the long-term. Its multiple benefits include:

  • providing more affordable energy for consumers
  • creating a market for energy efficiency services and technologies, with an estimated 4,000 jobs supported each year once the programme is fully developed
  • substantially reducing greenhouse gas emissions

We will continue to invest in energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation over the next four years, publishing a SEEP Route Map to set out our long-term ambition. We will develop financial mechanisms to attract private sector investment and we will build on our successful SEEP pilots, with £11 million available for further pilots in this financial year to test different approaches to energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation.

In addition, we will:

  • seek the views of owner‑occupiers on improving the energy efficiency of their homes, including the role of standards and the use of financial and fiscal incentives
  • consult on detailed proposals for Local Heat and Energy Efficiency Strategies and regulation of district heating and develop, if appropriate, a wider SEEP Bill for later in this Parliament
  • confirm the introduction of new energy efficiency standards for the private rented sector ( PRS) to ensure that tenants are able to enjoy homes that are warmer and more affordable to heat
  • introduce changes to improve the condition of PRS properties, ensuring that every private tenant is able to live in a safe and good quality home

Flood risk and the water environment

We have supported delivery of flood protection and improvements to Scotland's rivers and lochs as set out in the second River Basin Management Plans. We will continue to invest in the Water Environment Fund to deliver further improvements and associated additional community and economic benefits.

We will work with partners to deliver the first round of flood risk strategies. This will be supported by funding to projects and initiatives like the Scottish Flood Forum, to raise awareness of flooding and share information on how to be prepared. This will improve Scotland's resilience to an increasing likelihood of severe weather events and the associated risk of flooding. We will also support the Scottish Environment Protection Agency in their development of the second National Flood Risk Assessment, due in 2018.

Empowering our communities

Putting power in people's hands

Over the last 10 years, we have demonstrated a strong commitment to empowering communities and the importance of regional decision-making. We believe that the best people to decide the future of our communities are the people who live in those communities.

Now, working closely with councils, community councils, community planning partnerships, regional partnerships, businesses, the third sector and others, we will continue to reform the way Scotland is governed, focusing on delivering local decision making, not on behalf of a community, but by a community itself. Specifically, we will:

  • decentralise power to a more local level in Scotland and launch a comprehensive review of local governance ahead of a Local Democracy Bill later in this Parliament
  • support those island authorities who want to establish a single authority model of delivering local services - including health and social care. We will support proposals that are developed with stakeholders, including trade unions, and which clearly improve people's lives, create efficiencies and protect local democracy and our NHS

We will back our ambition with investment in local communities and in their ability to take decisions for themselves by:

  • supporting hundreds of community organisations to deliver locally identified priorities to tackle poverty and inequality through our Empowering Communities Fund
  • investing £10 million in 113 community projects as part of the Climate Challenge Fund, empowering local communities to deliver local solutions to climate change
  • investing £2 million in the Community Choices Fund to support participatory budgeting - handing decision-making on budgets direct to communities
  • working with local government on having at least 1% of council budgets subject to community choices budgeting
  • investigating the scope to expand our support to employee ownership, including social care co‑operatives' role in the delivery of services

Community wealth building

Building on existing support, including the work of Business Improvement Districts Scotland, we will actively promote wealth building within local communities. We will seek to maximise the benefits of economic activity for local communities by:

  • working with anchor institutions to consider how procurement activity can be better used to support local economic activity
  • helping local enterprises to supply goods and services to these anchor institutions - keeping money within communities

Council Tax

Our reforms to Council Tax, implemented in April 2017, protect household incomes and make local taxation fairer. By changing the amount of tax people in the highest value properties pay, an additional £500 million will be raised over the current parliamentary term to support services funded by local authorities.

To support those on low incomes, we have invested over £1 billion in the Council Tax Reduction Scheme since 2013-14, assisting almost half a million households each year to meet their Council Tax. In addition, we have increased the child allowance in the Council Tax Reduction Scheme by 25%, benefitting up to 77,000 households, and we will not introduce the two child cap (which now applies to many UK Benefits) to the Council Tax Reduction Scheme.

We remain committed to making local taxation more progressive whilst improving the financial accountability of local government and are open to further dialogue on options for reform.

Third sector funding

The third sector plays a vital role in Scotland's communities, working with them to tackle tough social issues at source. We recognise that to do this successfully the third sector needs stability of funding and the opportunity for longer term planning and development.

We will seek to extend three-year rolling funding where possible across the Scottish Government. Together with a transparent and fair basis for the extension of core funding, this will give the third sector a significant level of stability of funding and the ability to plan ahead.

Reinvigorating volunteering

We will be bold in realising our vision for volunteering and the role volunteers can play in shaping the lives of their communities. Volunteering is transformational: for the volunteer, for the beneficiary and for communities. We will do more to support groups currently facing barriers to engaging in their communities, including disabled people, older people and people out of work. Building on positive trends for youth volunteering, we will work with young people throughout the Year of Young People 2018 to better understand opportunities and motivations and ensure young people can contribute on issues that matter to them.

Land reform

Our land is vital to our wellbeing, prosperity and sense of national identity. It is important that we look after our land and continue to improve its productivity in economic, social and environmental terms. Land reform, in both urban and rural contexts, is already making an important contribution to making Scotland a more successful country for the benefit of all.

Scotland's new Land Commission, now a statutory public body, is charged with providing energy and focus on land reform and helping Scotland to make the most of its land. The Commission has been engaging with the public and various organisations, raising awareness of the significance of land reform as a driver of sustainable economic growth. We will encourage the Commission to continue this work across urban and rural Scotland.

We expect to approve the Commission's first strategic plan in September 2017. This will set out its priorities for the next three years for delivering significant change, as well as a major programme of research to examine a range of radical options for further land reform in Scotland. These will include:

  • reviewing the unusually concentrated pattern of land ownership in Scotland, including the potential risk of localised monopolies in some situations, and its potential impact on the public interest
  • examining the ownership of land by charitable trusts, and the potential impact that these arrangements may have on the public interest (including on community right to buy)
  • reviewing tax and fiscal arrangements, including the potential for introducing some form of land value based tax in Scotland
  • examining ownership constraints to the supply and cost of land for housing, including the issue of land banking
  • identifying measures to bring vacant and derelict land into productive use for economic, social and environmental benefit, especially in urban areas
  • assessing whether better use could be made of common-good land, including the extent to which it might be transferred to community ownership and managed for community benefit

In addition, we will encourage the Commission to take immediate action to help achieve change on the ground by preparing clear and robust guidance and codes of practice for landowners and managers that will inform and guide their decision making.

We want many more communities to benefit from our land reform agenda and wish to ensure the Community Right to Buy procedures are as simple as possible. We will ask the Commission to review existing mechanisms and recommend how best to enable community ownership in appropriate circumstances. We will also continue to support community land purchases through the Scottish Land Fund.

We welcome the positive impact which the Tenant Farming Commissioner is having on the sector. In addition to work already planned, we will ask the Commissioner and his fellow Land Commissioners to examine the current barriers to entry into agriculture, particularly for young people and for women, with a focus on identifying mechanisms to help increase innovation in the industry.

We are making good progress with implementing the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016. Further action over the coming year will include:

  • publishing the final version of a Land Rights and Responsibilities Statement by October 2017
  • setting out proposals for a Register of Controlling Interests in landowners and tenants, to increase the transparency of individuals controlling land in Scotland
  • publishing guidance on engaging communities in decisions relating to land early in 2018

Dignity, equality and human rights for all

We are committed to respecting, protecting and implementing human rights for everyone in Scotland, and to embedding equality, dignity and respect in everything we do. That means learning lessons from the past as well as protecting our rights into the future.

The Sexual Offences (Pardons and Disregards) Bill will reflect this by ensuring that people convicted of offences relating to same-sex sexual activity under outdated criminal laws will receive a pardon where the same activity would now be lawful. They will also be able to apply to have such convictions removed from central criminal conviction records. This will correct a historic wrong.

We continue to oppose any attempt by the UK Government to undermine the Human Rights Act or withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights. We will also work to ensure that existing and relevant future human rights protections provided under European Union Law are maintained following UK withdrawal from the EU.

Human rights go well beyond civil and political rights in the Human Rights Act 1998. We are also committed to action that gives effect to the vitally important economic, social and cultural rights set out in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the European Social Charter and other treaties.

We will implement the socio‑economic duty in the Equality Act 2010 by the end of this year, placing a requirement on key parts of the public sector, including Scottish Ministers, to have due regard to reducing the inequalities caused by socio‑economic disadvantage when taking strategic decisions. This is a key component
of our approach to tackling poverty.

We are determined to increase representation of disabled people in our democratic institutions. Our Access to Elected Office Fund (Scotland) supported those who wished to stand in the 2017 local government elections by helping to meet the additional costs disabled people face when seeking election. We will continue this fund for the Scottish Parliamentary elections in 2021.

We will also:

  • press on with implementing our delivery plan 'Fairer Scotland for Disabled People' and continue our wider work to protect and promote the human rights of disabled people
  • publish and implement a Race Equality Action Plan setting out the key actions we will take to drive forward race equality during this Parliament
  • establish an expert advisory group to lead a participatory process to make recommendations on how Scotland can continue to lead by example in human rights, including economic, social, cultural and environmental rights
  • progress the Gender Representation on Public Boards (Scotland) Bill, which was introduced in June 2017, to ensure that women are properly represented on Scotland's public boards
  • confirm the full membership of the Advisory Council on Women and Girls this autumn. The Council will advise on the impact of government policies (Scottish, UK and local) on women and girls and identify areas where action is needed to bring about positive change. It will also advocate wider societal change, encouraging discussion and debate on gender inequality
  • work with the Time for Inclusive Education ( TIE) campaign to deal with LGBTI bullying, discrimination and prejudice in schools
  • consult on reforming gender recognition legislation
  • publish the first National Action Plan on British Sign Language ( BSL) in October, improving access to information and services for those whose first or preferred language is BSL

Protecting and promoting human rights for everyone in Scotland

Everyone in Scotland has fundamental human rights guaranteed by law and set out in international treaties like the European Convention on Human Rights. EU laws are a vital part of those safeguards. But Brexit means that our future ability to benefit from EU progress on rights and equality is now under threat.

It is essential that existing safeguards are not undermined by Brexit. The rights we currently enjoy as EU citizens need to be permanently locked into any future deal. We will oppose the proposed removal of the European Charter of Fundamental Rights from our laws contained in the EU Withdrawal Bill and oppose any attempt by the UK Government to undermine the Human Rights Act 1998.

We will ensure existing and relevant future human rights protections provided under EU law are maintained following Brexit. We will also consider how Scotland can go further and will establish an expert advisory group to lead a participatory process to make recommendations on how Scotland can continue to lead by example in human rights, including economic, social, cultural and environmental rights.

As part of the Year of Young People, we will undertake a comprehensive audit on the most effective and practical way to further embed the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into policy and legislation, including the option of full incorporation into domestic law.

Dealing with prejudice and intolerance

Ensuring communities are strong, resilient and cohesive is central to our ambitions for Scotland. We want to foster good relations with communities, support interfaith activities and tackle the prejudices and attitudes that fuel intolerance and hate crime.

We will work with partners and communities to deliver a balanced and proportionate approach to safeguarding vulnerable individuals who may be exploited by and drawn towards divisive ideologies. Our approach is grounded in prevention and early intervention, acknowledging that identifying and addressing risk and need at the earliest opportunity is proven to be the most effective approach.

To deliver this, we will:

  • strengthen interfaith relations and dialogue in order to lower barriers, eliminate fear and distrust and increase understanding and mutual respect
  • take forward a robust plan of action to implement the recommendations of the Independent Advisory Group on Hate Crime, Prejudice and Community Cohesion
  • consider the findings of, and take action following, Lord Bracadale's review of hate crime legislation
  • ensure local multi-agency structures are in place where institutions take ownership and have capacity to comply with the Prevent duty in a way that meets the Scottish context and needs
  • enhance existing initiatives and support innovative projects to ensure individuals and communities with concerns, issues and vulnerabilities have access to appropriate safe spaces, advice and support

Open Government

In 2016, Scotland joined the Open Government Partnership ( OGP), a multilateral organisation of 80 countries which promotes partnerships between governments, civil society organisations and people to make sure that citizens can see, understand and influence government effectively. Membership has provided the opportunity to highlight Scotland's commitment to openness, transparency and citizen participation and to share learning with countries around the world.

Openness and transparency is about much more than Freedom of Information. Open Government puts people in charge and creates opportunities for citizens to influence the decision‑making process, hold government to account, and make the most of opportunities. People in Scotland must be able to understand how decisions are made, what information supports them, and how they can feed into the democratic process.

This year, we are implementing our first Open Government Partnership National Action Plan, delivering commitments on Financial Transparency, Measuring Scotland's Progress, a Fairer Scotland, Participatory (or community choices) Budgeting and Increasing Participation.

As part of our efforts, we are actively seeking to increase the amount of information that we proactively publish and we are reviewing our approach to accessing information to secure increased openness and transparency in line with international best practice.


Contact

Email: Gavin Henderson, gavin.henderson@gov.scot

Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG