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Programme for Government 2015-16

Published: 1 Sep 2015
Part of:
Constitution and democracy, Public sector
ISBN:
9781785445989

Programme for Government 2015-16, setting out the legislation for the coming year.

88 page PDF

1.7MB

88 page PDF

1.7MB

Contents
Programme for Government 2015-16
05 Strengthening Our Communities

88 page PDF

1.7MB

05 Strengthening Our Communities

Our ambition is for Scotland to be a country where every person, regardless of circumstances:

  • Has the right to take part in debating and shaping the society that we live in and the decisions we take.
  • Can influence the decisions that affect them and their families and can trust in the decisions the people they elect make on their behalf.
  • Has opportunities and support to lead their own change, with others and on their own.
  • Has a voice in their local community and be able to play their part in making it a sustainable and enjoyable place to live.

We believe that people in Scotland have the ideas, the energy and the talent that will make this a better country for everybody to live in. Our programme of Cabinet meetings and public discussions across Scotland gives people direct access to Scottish Government Ministers and a chance to share their views on the things that matter to them. The Fairer Scotland discussions, promoted by Scottish Ministers in June, seeks to hear from the widest range of voices possible about how to make Scotland a fairer, more equal society.

Community Empowerment

The Scottish Parliament passed the Community Empowerment Act in June giving new rights to communities to own land and buildings and our new £19.4 million Empowering Communities Fund has invested in hundreds of community-based organisations supporting thousands of people. Achievements include:

  • Increased the People and Communities Fund by £5.6 million to a total £12.6 million in 2015-16 which is supporting 197 community-led projects in disadvantaged communities across Scotland.
  • Additional investment in the Strengthening Communities Programme with which we are supporting 26 enterprising community groups to drive forward community-led regeneration in their areas. This comes on top of the £3 million which was allocated to around 50 projects in April 2014.
  • Increased funding for the Community Ownership Support Service which helps groups and local authorities transfer buildings or land assets.

The Scottish Government sees Participatory Budgeting as an important resource to build on the wider development of participatory democracy in Scotland. Participatory Budgeting is recognised internationally as a way for local people to have a direct say in how, and where, public funds can be used to address local needs.

EMPOWERING COMMUNITIES FUND

We will continue our investment in the Empowering Communities Fund over the next three years. This will build on the good work already underway through the fund and allow us to invest in new opportunities identified by community groups themselves. We will also work with community groups over that period to support them to achieve greater sustainability and longer-term resilience.

PARTICIPATORY BUDGETING

Participatory Budgeting aims to reallocate public money locally and democratically to where it is needed most. When Participatory Budgeting is adopted its use can be very important in helping individuals feel connected to each other and to their communities. It can instill a sense of ownership, trust and connectivity.

The Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 includes a new power for Scottish Ministers to require Scottish public authorities to promote and facilitate the participation of members of the public in the decisions and activities of the authority, including in the use of participatory budgeting.

In 2015-16 the Scottish Government is funding participatory budgeting support for local authorities, a learning programme, developing innovative digital approaches and researching the impact of participatory budgeting on communities.

We want to ensure the momentum to increase participation and involvement in decision making is maintained. To make that happen we will work with local authorities to develop and pilot council-wide participatory budgeting processes. This will mean that local people will take more decisions about a larger proportion of available budgets.

EMPOWERING ISLANDS COMMUNITIES

In February 2015, the Minister for Transport and Islands, Derek Mackay re-convened the Island Areas Ministerial Working Group. The Group is due to meet six times by February 2016. Progress has already been made on delivering the commitments outlined in the 'Empowering Scotland's Island Communities' prospectus which was jointly agreed with the three Island Councils in June 2014.

Alongside this, we will launch a public consultation by the end of September which will look at what measures might be included in a future Islands Bill. This consultation will run for three months, with findings likely to be published early in the New Year to coincide with the conclusion of the Ministerial Working Group.

The third sector, including social and community enterprises, are an important part of strengthening communities and increasing participation. We are already investing over £24 million in the sector and will continue to support and invest in the sector and in social enterprise over the next three years.

Our islands are part of the rich and diverse fabric of this country and make a significant contribution to Scotland. The Scottish Government is committed to plans for more autonomy for our island communities, to make our islands stronger and to let them flourish.

Connecting our Communities

At the Transport Accessibility Summit on 24 March 2015, which brought together Transport Scotland, disabled peoples' organisations and transport providers, the Minister for Transport and Islands reaffirmed the Scottish Government's commitment that disabled people should enjoy the same rights, choices and opportunities to travel as everyone else. He also confirmed the Scottish Government's commitment to work to improve journeys for those disabled people who travel and encourage more disabled people to travel and live independent lives.

The Scottish Government and Transport Scotland are working with disabled people's organisations and transport providers to develop a national vision and action plan which will act as the catalyst for continued improvement of all journeys which will include and involve disabled people.

We will continue to work with local transport authorities, bus operators and organisations representing bus users to improve the functioning of the bus services. As part of this programme, we will introduce legislation and guidance in October 2015 to change the service registration process to improve better engagement about service changes between operators and local transport authorities. We will consult on further legislative changes to improve the powers available to local transport authorities to intervene in the market in late 2015 with a view to legislation after May 2016.

We will also review our financial support for bus services, including to encourage the take-up of greener, less-polluting buses and make progress on smart ticketing and integration. We intend to announce any changes early in 2016 for introduction during the course of 2016-17.

AFFORDABLE, SUSTAINABLE HOUSING

Our vision is that all people in Scotland live in high quality sustainable homes that they can afford and that meet their needs. We recognise the links between housing and a wide range of outcomes including social justice, health and the environment.

The housing sector in Scotland is continuing its recovery from the effects of the international financial downturn which impacted on both housing developers and would-be home buyers and increased pressures on living standards across households generally. UK Government decisions to curb public expenditure and reform aspects of the welfare system have added to challenges in the housing sector.

Against this challenging backdrop, the Scottish Government has invested significantly to support the recovery of new housing supply. This has been achieved through both our affordable housing supply programme, which is on track to surpass our 30,000 affordable homes target, and schemes such as Help to Buy (Scotland) and the Small Developers Scheme, which will support the purchase of over 7500 homes by March 2016. The Scottish Government also recognises the importance of bringing forward the land required to support an increasing supply of new homes. Reflecting our support for house building in Scotland, the rate of house building completions across all tenures in Scotland has remained significantly above that in England over the past 10 years.

ON TRACK TO MEET AND SURPASS OUR 30,000 AFFORDABLE HOUSING TARGET

The Scottish Government has pledged to deliver 30,000 affordable homes over the lifetime of this Parliament, including 20,000 social homes of which 5000 will be council homes. This 30,000 affordable homes target has been backed by planned investment of £1.7 billion.

By the end of March 2015, a total of 26,972 affordable homes had been delivered - 90% of the 30,000 target. This includes 18,670 homes for social rent - 93% of the 20,000 social rent target, and within that 4643 council homes - 93% of the 5000 council house target. This means we are on track to meet and surpass this key target over the lifetime of this Parliament.

We have continued to support households who have struggled to get a foot on the property ladder through our Help to Buy and shared-equity schemes, and to protect home-owners at risk of losing their homes due to financial distress through our Home Owners' Support Fund.

  • £70 million has been allocated this year to the Open Market Shared Equity Scheme to help around 1700 households.
  • Since May 2007, the Home Owners' Support Fund has assisted over 2150 families in Scotland to remain in their home who might otherwise have become homeless.
  • Between 2007-08 and 2014-15, our shared equity schemes for first-time buyers have helped almost 10,000 people to buy a home.

The Scottish Government has a track record for pioneering initiatives in support of our housing ambitions, such as the National Housing Trust. This year we will forge ahead with further innovations, including a new Rural Housing Fund, a successor to our popular Help to Buy (Scotland) scheme and a potential successor to the National Housing Trust initiative.

We are maintaining Scotland's leadership in financial innovation and continuing to work creatively with our partners and use innovative ways to deliver more for less public investment. The contribution from financing approaches using government guarantees, loans, grant recycling and new sources of private funding is substantial and growing.

Almost 3000 new affordable homes have already been approved through these approaches, supplementing the homes being built through our conventional, grant-funded, Affordable Housing Supply Programme. These innovative mechanisms are unlocking around £400 million housing investment and supporting around 600 jobs in each year of construction. Hundreds more homes are in the pipeline.

The National Housing Trust initiative ( NHT) - the first guarantee-based scheme for housing in the UK - was co-developed with the Scottish Futures Trust ( SFT). NHT has already delivered 1000 affordable homes and is on track to deliver over 2000 homes for intermediate rent across the country. We are actively working with SFT on a new investment vehicle with the potential to be a successor to the NHT initiative.

RURAL HOUSING FUND

We recognise the unique issues associated with provision of housing in rural Scotland. We have listened to rural stakeholders and to help address these issues we will introduce a new rural housing fund. This fund will aim to increase the supply of affordable housing of all tenures in rural areas of Scotland.

Over the next three years, the fund will be available to community groups and rural landowners, enabling them, and other eligible applicants, to take a more active role in meeting the housing needs of their communities. The fund will have two components, the main one offering funding to enable the direct provision of new affordable housing and upgrading of empty properties and a second smaller component providing a contribution to feasibility studies.

HELP TO BUY

We will support homebuyers across Scotland through a successor to our popular Help to Buy (Scotland) scheme, with a renewed focus on support for affordable home ownership. We plan to commit £195 million over the next three years to support at least another 6500 households to buy a new-build home that meets their needs and that they can afford. Help to Buy relies on funding flowing through the Barnett mechanism so we will set out more detail on the scheme's arrangements following the publication of the UK Spending Review in November.

In addition to seeking to boost housing supply, we have also been taking measures to improve the experience of tenants in both social and private sector rented housing. This includes ongoing work through the 2014 Housing Act to regulate the letting agent industry, including consulting on a draft Code of Practice for the industry and providing local authorities with the additional powers that they need to improve standards in the private rented sector. Over the coming year, through the Private Tenancies Bill, we plan to go further in ensuring that private tenants in Scotland live in a thriving sector, with increased security in their homes.

We will continue to promote action to reduce and address homelessness. We also recognise the contribution that housing can make to the health and wellbeing of everyone in Scotland and the particular challenges that arise from an ageing population. This year, for example, we will be piloting our innovative Help to Adapt scheme, which provides equity finance for home-owners so that they can make the adaptations they need to remain living comfortably within their own homes.

PLANNING SYSTEM AND HOUSING

We will review the operation of the planning system in Scotland, identifying the scope for further reform with a focus on delivering a quicker, more accessible and efficient planning process, in particular increasing delivery of high quality housing developments. Our aims are to:

  • Ensure that planning realises its full potential, unlocking land and sites, supporting more quality housing across all tenures and delivering the infrastructure required to support development.
  • Streamline, simplify and improve current systems and remove unnecessary blockages in the decision-making process.
  • Ensure that communities are more engaged in the process.
  • Continue to meet our statutory and international obligations in protecting and enhancing Scotland's nature and environment.

PRIVATE TENANCIES BILL

The Private Tenancies Bill will increase security of tenure for tenants while providing appropriate safeguards for landlords, lenders and investors. This is part of the Scottish Government's broader approach to reforming the private rented sector to make it a more professionally managed and better regulated sector, that provides good quality homes, and is attractive to those who want to live, work and invest in it.

Specifically, the Bill will:

  • Introduce a Scottish Private Rented Tenancy to replace the current Assured system.
  • Remove the 'no-fault' ground for repossession, meaning a landlord can no longer ask a tenant to leave simply because the fixed-term has ended.
  • Provide comprehensive and robust grounds for repossession that will allow landlords to regain possession in specified circumstances.
  • Provide more predictable rents and protection for tenants against excessive rent increases, including the ability to introduce local rent controls for rent pressure areas.
  • Create a more streamlined, clearer to understand tenancy system that is fit for the modern private rented sector.

OUR POWER

Our Power is a new, fully licensed, independent energy supply company, the first in the UK operating as a Community Benefit Society. It plans to sell heat and power to tenants in 200,000 homes across Scotland by 2020. Our Power has been founded by 35 member organisations including housing associations and local authorities. The company will enter the market at the end of 2015 as an Ofgem licensed supplier of gas and electricity to provide lower-cost energy to the tenants and communities of its member organisations. It expects to save its members up to 10% on their household utility bills compared to standard commercial tariffs. Our Power is backed by £2.5 million from the Scottish Government and another £1 million from Social Investment Scotland, both in the form of repayable loans. In the future, Our Power hopes to develop renewable energy projects as part of its business for the benefit of local communities.

We have continued our efforts to curb the increase in fuel poverty driven by energy price increases over the past decade. We have increased our investment in measures to improve the energy efficiency of Scotland's homes which, in addition to making fuel bills cheaper, has also helped to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from housing, consistent with our ambitions to combat climate change.

Since 2009 we have allocated over £500 million on a range of fuel poverty and energy efficiency programmes, installing more than 900,000 energy efficiency measures in homes across Scotland - nearly one in three of all households have received energy efficiency measures. Our efforts are paying off. The energy efficiency of our housing stock has improved significantly since 2007 - over a third of all Scottish homes are now Energy Performance Certificate Band C or better, an increase of 56% since 2010 and proportionately 60% more homes than in England.

Over the next year we will go further in our efforts to eradicate fuel poverty and to deliver against our ambitious climate change targets. In particular, we are establishing a new Rural Fuel Poverty Task Force to help tackle fuel poverty in remote rural and island communities. We have supported the creation of Our Power to bear down on the energy prices paid by social tenants. We have also recently announced that improving the energy efficiency of our buildings will be a National Infrastructure Priority.

LAND REFORM

Using Scotland's land strategically and sustainably will allow us to maximise its contribution to a more prosperous and successful nation. Increasing communities connection to the land and their involvement in decisions around land makes for better, fairer decisions and can help tackle inequalities.

Crown Estate

We will seek to ensure that the Scotland Bill devolves effective control of the management and revenue of the Crown Estate in Scotland.

Following the enactment of new devolved powers a new framework for the Crown Estate should be made in Scotland by the Scottish Parliament, with an opportunity for local authorities and other stakeholders to help design that framework. Our communities will benefit directly from devolution of the Crown Estate - we have already committed to ensuring coastal and island communities benefit from the net revenue from Crown Estate property in Scotland from marine activities out to
12 nautical miles.

PROGRESS ON THE LAND REFORM BILL

The Land Reform Bill was introduced in June 2015. It follows a public consultation and takes forward a number of recommendations from the report of the Agricultural Holdings Legislation Review Group which reported in January 2015.

The Bill is the next step in Scottish Government's programme of ambitious land reform and contains provisions that aim to:

  • Ensure an effective system of land governance and ongoing commitment to land reform in Scotland.
  • Enhance sustainable development in relation to land and improve the transparency and accountability of land ownership.
  • Demonstrate commitment to manage land and rights in land for the common good, through modernising and improving specific aspects of land ownership and rights over land.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

The roles and responsibilities of the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government have evolved significantly in the 16 years since devolution and are set to do so further. The relationship between Scottish Government and local government and health boards has also evolved, most recently with the establishment of integrated joint boards for health and social care. In this changing landscape it is now the time to consider how best to enable people and communities to shape the decisions which affect them.

The Scottish Government has worked with our local government partners to ensure that the council tax has been frozen since 2008-09. We have fully funded the freeze by providing an extra £70 million each year within the annual local government finance settlements. All of Scotland's council tax payers have benefited from the council tax freeze providing much needed financial relief particularly to vulnerable groups, including pensioners.

We have also worked with our local government partners to provide an extra £40 million for each financial year to fill the 10% funding gap imposed by the UK Government budget transfer for Council Tax Benefit successor arrangements. This has ensured that we have a national Council Tax Reductions scheme in place that protects over half-a-million vulnerable recipients in Scotland. In addition, the Community Charge Debt Act abolished community charge debts. It ensured that arrears of community charge could no longer be pursued where collection had not already been prescribed, and ended ongoing repayment arrangements.

COMMISSION TO EXAMINE ALTERNATIVES TO THE COUNCIL TAX

The Commission on Local Tax Reform was established by the Scottish Government and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities ( COSLA) in February 2015, fulfilling the commitment in the 2014-15 Programme for Government. Its remit is to consider council tax reform and replacement options.

Co-chaired by Marco Biagi, Minister for Local Government and Community Empowerment, and Councillor David O'Neill, President of COSLA, the Commission has cross-party and non-party membership. The Commission is due to report in the Autumn.

RENEWING DEMOCRACY

We aspire to continue to be the most accessible Government that Scotland has ever had. We believe that Ministers should be accessible to the people, open about performance and accountable for results. In 2015-16 we will:

  • Continue our programme of holding Cabinet meetings across Scotland, giving people the chance to discuss and debate issues of importance to them with members of the Cabinet.
  • Implement the provisions of the Community Empowerment Act 2015 that put Scotland's National Performance Framework on a statutory basis, placing duties on Ministers to consult on, publish and report on the outcomes and performance. Introduced in 2007, the Framework sets out objectives that define what a successful Scotland should look like and performance measures on which we report continuously through the 'Scotland Performs' website and through annual 'scorecards' which support parliamentary committee scrutiny of government and public bodies.
  • Make statistics accessible as part of a wider approach of the whole public sector as set out in our Open Data Strategy, published in February 2015. We will make our data accessible to a wide range of users, from the lay-person to the public sector analysts to the entrepreneurial web developer in order.

We will also:

  • Develop participatory budgeting to involve people and communities in decisions on spending on public services.
  • Back local organisations to involve communities in leading change on their own terms by continuing our new Empowering Communities Fund.
  • Take forward legislation to extend Freedom of Information duties to bodies such as contractors who run privately-managed prisons; providers of secure accommodation for children; grant-aided schools; and independent special schools following the outcome of our consultation.
  • Bring forward a Lobbying Bill to further improve the public transparency of elected representatives' activity.

Elections

Scotland is leading the way in the UK in involving young people in the democratic process. Letting 16 and 17 year olds vote in the referendum was controversial, but the maturity which they displayed amply demonstrated that it was the right thing to do. The Scottish Government believes that young people should be able to vote in all elections and pressed successfully for powers over the franchise to be devolved as part of the Smith Commission process. In June 2015 our proposals to extend the vote to 16- and 17-year-old voters in the forthcoming Scottish Parliament and local elections in 2016 and 2017 were passed by the Parliament with all-party support.

LOBBYING BILL

The Lobbying Bill will further improve the public awareness of lobbying activity directed at MSPs and Ministers. The Bill will take account of the findings of the recent inquiry by the Scottish Parliament's Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee into lobbying in Scotland and will introduce a measured and proportionate register of lobbying activity.

SCOTTISH ELECTIONS (DATES) BILL

This Bill will ensure that the Scottish Parliament elections following the May 2016 elections will not coincide with the next scheduled UK General Election in May 2020. This Bill will be introduced to the Scottish Parliament once an order under the Scotland Act (1998) has been approved by the Westminster and Scottish Parliaments to devolve the necessary legislative competence. Specifically, the Bill will propose a five-year term for the next Scottish Parliament, which is the same as for the Scottish Parliament elected in 2011. If passed, this would move the election scheduled in May 2020 to May 2021.

The Government will also take forward legislation to ensure that the Scottish Parliament elections following the May 2016 elections will not coincide with the next scheduled UK General Election in May 2020.

AGRICULTURE AND FISHING

Scotland has a vibrant agriculture and rural sector that the Scottish Government aims to support. We encourage the growth of good agri-business while still enjoying and protecting our natural environment. The Scotland Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 will provide applied funding support for farming, forestry, crofting and rural development projects.

The Scottish Government recognises the wider benefits of organic farming, such as encouraging biodiversity, tackling climate change, improving soils and protecting our water environment. We continue to support organic production with funding from the organic farming conversion and maintenance schemes under the new Scottish Rural Development Programme. Working with the industry-led Scottish Organic Forum, the Scottish Government will launch a new Scottish Organic Action Plan early in 2016.

The Scottish Government is working with stakeholders to implement new EU Common Agricultural Policy ( CAP) requirements in Scotland, to tailor European rules to Scottish circumstances and ensure that the CAP contributes to Scotland's ambitious climate change targets. We will implement the new CAP in Scotland between 2015 and 2020, including various Direct Payments and the Scottish Development Programme, and have successfully opened the new CAP schemes for applications from Spring 2015.

During 2015, we will commence issuing new contracts under the schemes within the Scottish Rural Development Programme ( SRDP), to deliver our key priorities of sustainable economic growth, protecting the environment, tackling climate change and supporting vibrant rural communities. The SRDP includes schemes such as the Forestry Grant Scheme, Agri-Environment Climate Scheme, Food and Drink sector support and LEADER. The Programme will deliver over £1.2 billion, to support rural communities across Scotland from 2014 to 2020.

Through Direct Payments, we plan to make payments to up to 21,000 farmers and crofters as early as possible in the payment window (1 December, 2015 to 30 June, 2016). Over the period from 2015 to 2020, the new support measures will inject £2.2 billion into Scotland's agricultural sector.

Growing your own food, including on an allotment or community growing space, is an important part Scotland's aim to become a Good Food Nation. For that reason we included in the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act provisions which brings allotments legislation up-to-date and enables communities to take over assets and buy land for Grow Your Own food initiatives.

Work on 'the future of Scottish Agriculture' vision will continue with a National Discussion taking place in the second half of 2015. A summary document setting out the immediate and longer-term actions needed to deliver the nine outcomes will be produced around the end of the year.

Earlier this year, the Crofting Legislation Stakeholder Group provided recommendations to the Scottish Government on changes to crofting law following submission of the Final Report on the Crofting Law Sump. Crofting stakeholders are also continuing work to develop a coherent, long-term vision for crofting in Scotland. The Scottish Government will engage with stakeholders and with crofters to help determine what further changes might require to be made to the crofting legislative framework.

The Scottish Government takes a precautionary approach to GM technology and is opposed to the cultivation of GM crops in Scotland. We feel that growing GM crops could threaten our reputation for producing high quality and natural foods and damage Scotland's image as a land of food and drink. That is why we took the decision to utilise new EU rules which allow us to opt out of growing EU approved GM crops on a case-by-case basis. This decision will not affect research as it is currently carried out in Scotland where the contained use of GM plants is permitted for scientific purposes in, for example, laboratories or sealed glasshouse facilities.

We will continue to support the Scottish sea fishing fleet as it harvests our fish stocks sustainably, adding important and positive economic activity in coastal and island communities. In 2016, we will work closely with fishermen as they adapt fishing practices to conform to the new landing obligation, which is being implemented as part of the reformed Common Fisheries Policy.

We also published our response to the independent Wild Fisheries Review in May 2015, confirming the Scottish Government's commitment to reforming the management of wild fisheries so that we have a system that is able to respond fully to all of the requirements we face in the 21st century. We have consulted on the major principles that were set out by the Wild Fisheries Review and are now considering the detail of how best to take the reforms forward. We are continuing to work with fisheries stakeholders and intend to consult again publicly, on draft provisions for a Wild Fisheries Bill, before the end of the parliamentary session.

Our Natural Environment

Many of our habitats and wildlife are internationally important and Scotland's well-deserved reputation for its landscape draws tourists from around the world, supporting businesses across the country. By protecting and improving Scotland's environment, we are ensuring that communities, nature and our economy flourish together.

Scotland has led the way in legislation to protect wildlife and to safeguard animal welfare. We plan to enable greater Parliamentary scrutiny of the operation of the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002 by including a section on that Act in the Wildlife Crime Annual Report that is laid before the Scottish Parliament. We will also review the Act to ensure that it is providing the necessary level of protection for foxes and other wild mammals, while at the same time allowing effective and humane control of these animals where necessary. Should the review conclude that changes to the legislation are required we will aim to consult and bring forward new legislation after May 2016.

FISHERIES MANAGEMENT SYSTEM

The Scottish Government published Wild Fisheries Reform: a Response to the Report of the Wild Fisheries Review in May 2015. In this document, we:

  • Confirmed the Scottish Government's commitment to reforming management of wild fisheries and working with all interested parties to deliver reform.
  • Set out the fundamental principles that will guide development of the new system, and sought the views of stakeholders and the wider public.
  • Announced the development of a new national wild fisheries strategy.

Much of the law which underpins Scotland's current wild fisheries management system dates back to the 19th century. Many parts of it have served Scotland well for a long time, but in some important aspects it is no longer in step with what we require to ensure we have a management system fit for purpose in the 21st century - for example much of the current law predates important international conservation requirements, such as those in the European Habitats Directive. Any new management system needs to fully reflect these modern international standards.

In considering the changes we need, we have been clear that we must not lose the best elements of the existing system, including the many benefits that come from strong local management of rivers and fisheries.

Doing this successfully will not only ensure that we are better able to protect this valuable natural resource, but also that we are better able to realise the economic and social benefits that fishing and related activity can provide to local communities and the country as a whole.

Our National Forest Estate covers approximately 9% of the land area of Scotland and provides significant economic, social and environmental benefits. Recent investments in a wide range of recreational routes and visitor facilities have helped stimulate tourism growth while creating opportunities for more people to enjoy a healthier lifestyle. This includes:

  • £2.3 million investment since 2011 to Scotland's Great Trails (Great Glen Way, West Highland Way and John Muir Way); and
  • £15.5 million investment in visitor centres in Galloway, Scottish Borders, The Trossachs and Highland Perthshire.

Scotland's two National Parks are models for sustainable development, combining conservation of the environment with promotion of outdoor recreation activity, community development and tourism growth. Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park recently invested £1.5 million in new waterfront visitor facilities at Loch Lubnaig and Loch Venachar, while Cairngorms National Park opened the new £420,000 Laggan Wolftrax Mountain Bike Centre. The Parks will consult on their third Park Partnership Plans during 2016, which will strengthen their place as two of Scotland's outstanding outdoor destinations and encourage more of Scotland's people to visit the Parks and get active in the outdoors.

In the central belt, the Central Scotland Green Network is Europe's largest green space project and uses environmental measures to tackle inequality and support communities to improve their environment and their daily lives. Over £5 million has been awarded to 150 early delivery projects since 2010 through the CSGN Development Fund.

Regular review of the Scottish Government's Land Use Strategy ( LUS) is a statutory requirement of the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009. The Strategy sets out a high-level, long-term agenda for the wellbeing and future needs of Scotland's land and people in response to the challenges of the 21st century. It is currently being reviewed and a refreshed Strategy will be published no later than March 2016.

The Scottish Government started charging for carrier bags in October 2014 to reduce bag use and cut litter. In the first six months, this has reduced carrier bag use by around 80%, and four of the biggest retailers have between them donated over £1 million to good causes.

We will continue to improve the state of nature in Scotland by delivering Scotland's Biodiversity - a Route Map to 2020. Published in June 2015, it sets out priority projects which we and partners across the public, private and third sectors are taking forward to help deliver our Biodiversity Strategy and meet the international Aichi biodiversity targets.

Protecting Scotland's Environment

Environmental protection is essential to supporting quality of life, health and community wellbeing. In 2015-16 we will deliver Scotland's first ever Low Emissions Strategy, further supporting action to address air quality and supporting amongst other benefits the health of communities as well as individuals with wider health conditions.

With the Scottish Environment Protection Agency ( SEPA) we will publish Scotland's 2nd River Basin Management Plans and first ever Flood Risk Management Strategies. Together these will help maximise the benefits of Scotland's valuable water environment resource and reduce flood
risk across Scotland.

We will also continue to implement the Better Environmental Regulation programme with SEPA. In particular we will increase the enforcement tools available to SEPA allowing more effective, proportionate and consistent engagement with the regulated. This is aimed at supporting early engagement to avoid significant compliance issues emerging in the first place and tackling poor performance and environmental crime.

CULTURE AND SPORT

Engaging with culture and our historic environment is life-enhancing in its own right, but participation in cultural activities is also known to deliver positive outcomes across a range of areas, including health and wellbeing, justice and education, thereby making a significant contribution to the delivery of Scottish Government strategic priorities.

The evaluation of the Glasgow 2014 Culture Programme, published in June 2015, demonstrated the outstanding success of the most ambitious cultural celebration that has ever taken place in Scotland, with more than 2.1 million engaging in more than 1200 cultural events taking place across the country. The Culture Programme engaged people and communities across Scotland, as well as attracting large numbers of international visitors.

We will continue to build on the legacy of 2014, to ensure that our cultural and historic life continues to flourish, and to widen access and participation so that all Scotland's people and communities can benefit. Figures from the Scottish Household Survey 2013 show that 33% of people in Scotland's most deprived areas were more likely to agree that culture and the arts are 'not really for people like me' compared to 16% in the least deprived areas, highlighting the need to focus our efforts on widening access.

In July 2015 the Forth Bridge became Scotland's sixth UNESCO World Heritage Site, the culmination of a huge amount of work by many partners. The accolade is recognition both of Scotland's innovative industry and engineering as well as the success of Scotland's continuing commitment and innovative approach to protecting and promoting our diverse historic environment.

In 2015-16, our priorities include:

  • Establishing a new public body - Historic Environment Scotland ( HES) - which will integrate the functions of Historic Scotland and the Royal Commission for Ancient and Historic Monuments and be fully operational from October 2015. HES will play a key role in ensuring that Scotland's historic environment is understood and valued, cared for and protected, enjoyed and enhanced.
  • Continuing to deliver the priorities set out in the Historic Environment Strategy, Our Place In Time including, for example, supporting education; and delivering the Engine Shed, an ambitious and innovative project to create Scotland's first centre dedicated to building conservation providing a hub for training and skills to a wide audience.
  • Challenging our national collections and performing companies to build on their existing audience engagement to find new ways of reaching different audiences, particularly young people from disadvantaged communities.
  • Continuing to invest in the cultural infrastructure following the completion of new audience and performing facilities at Glasgow's Theatre Royal and Royal Concert Hall. We are investing in the ongoing construction of the V&A Dundee as part of the city's waterfront regeneration.
  • Seeking to influence the new BBC Charter. The Scottish Government's role in the future of the BBC has been guaranteed in a Memorandum of Understanding ( MoU) between the Scottish Government, the UK Government, Scottish Parliament and the BBC. The agreement includes a commitment that the UK Government will consult with the Scottish Government throughout the process of the BBC's Charter Renewal which is underway. The MoU puts into practice the Smith Commission Agreement on the BBC and provides the Scottish Government with an opportunity to influence the Charter in order to ensure that the BBC delivers better outcomes that reflect the needs and diversity of our communities and better supports the development, production and delivery of content from across Scotland.
  • Supporting Time to Shine, our National Youth Arts Strategy launched in 2013. One of its aims is to widen access and broaden participation, for example within minority groups and those from areas of deprivation.
  • Implementing the recommendation in the Libraries Strategy that all libraries should be Wi-Fi enabled.

CREATIVE INDUSTRIES

We will continue to work on a package of support for the screen sector to underpin the future success of film and television across Scotland. In addition to the work to develop additional screen studio infrastructure in Scotland, we are considering the case for additional funding and incentives to increase film and TV production in Scotland and also announced the creation of a Film Industry Leadership Group in May 2015.

The Film Industry Leadership Group will be chaired by Creative Scotland and will address a need for more formal engagement with the industry with the aim of responding better to the industry's needs. For the wider Creative Industries, we will develop greater opportunities for direct engagement between the Scottish Government, its public sector bodies and the industries. This will be to inform a single, overarching sense of purpose that the public sector and the creative industries subscribes to and which will more effectively coordinate public sector investment and support for Scotland's creative industries - enabling them to innovate, grow and fulfil their economic potential.

We are working with our partners at Scottish Enterprise and Creative Scotland (who together form the Film Studio Delivery Group) to develop additional screen studio infrastructure in Scotland. In order to support the sector further, we are also considering the case for additional funding and incentives to increase film and TV production in Scotland and have announced the creation of a Film Industry Leadership Group in May 2015.

Sport

To ensure that the benefits of the Commonwealth Games will be felt for many years to come in Glasgow and across Scotland we will support the 60 national legacy programmes with a £1.6 million investment to transform places, deliver economic return and changes lives.

Following from the great success of the 2014 Ryder Cup and demonstrating our commitment to golf and to promoting the women's game in particular, our bid to stage the 2019 Solheim Cup highlights Scotland's credentials as a world-class international events destination and the 'Home of Golf'. Following a successful bid we will work to maximise the economic, social, cultural and reputational benefits that staging this major event offers.

We continue to seek new opportunities to demonstrate our experience and commitment to delivering highly successful major sporting events and have already secured the exciting inaugural European Sports Championships in 2018, to be co-hosted with Berlin, as well as having Hampden selected as one of 13 hosts for the 60th Anniversary UEFA European Football Championships in 2020 (EURO 2020). Each of these will help build on previous successes and deliver their own individual legacy and benefits.

We will consult on the range of options to enhance the rights of football supporters. The consultation will seek views on the right to buy, bid, govern, or be involved in the running or ownership of their clubs.

sportscotland will invest almost £67 million in Scottish Government funding and £29 million of National Lottery funding to build a world-class sporting system for Scotland. In addition, by the end of 2015-16 we will have invested £31 million in the National Performance Centre in Riccarton and the National Para-Sports Centre at Inverclyde.

We will invest up to £50 million through sportscotland in Active Schools over the years 2015-19 to develop the opportunities for children and young people to participate in sport and physical activity. During 2013-14, school pupils across Scotland made 5.8 million visits to Active Schools sessions, a 30% increase since 2011-12. The number of individuals, mainly volunteers, involved in delivering Active Schools increased by 21% during the same period.

In performance sport, Scotland achieved a series of best ever outcomes, including the best ever performance by Team Scotland at Commonwealth Games. Sochi 2014 was the most successful Winter Games for Team GB and Paralympics GB since 1924, with three medals from performance programmes managed by the sportscotland Institute of Sport, in partnership with British Curling and UK Sport.

Building on the momentum from Glasgow and Sochi:

  • over £45 million of Scottish Government and Lottery funding will be invested in the 17 Glasgow Games sports and winter disciplines over the next four years - rise of 7% or £3 million; and
  • we will invest in sporting facilities for communities. The Legacy 2014 Active Places Fund has provided £10 million funding to 188 projects across all 32 Scotland's local authorities.

Contact

Email: Cabinet Secretariat, CabinetSecretariate3@scotland.gsi.gov.uk