Priorities of ‘Equality, Opportunity, Community’ set.
First Minister Humza Yousaf has published a new policy prospectus, setting out how the government will deliver for Scotland over the next three years.
In his first major statement to Parliament, the First Minister said three missions, centred on the themes of equality, opportunity and community, will be central to his government.
Announcing he will seek to reach agreement on a ‘New Deal for Scottish Business’, the statement revealed that the launch of Deposit Return Scheme will be set for March next year, that proposals on alcohol advertising will go “back to the drawing board” and that the Scottish Government will look at ways to use Business Rates to boost business and further support communities.
Titled ‘New Leadership – A Fresh Start’, the prospectus details the key aims the government intends to achieve in each Cabinet portfolio, working with the Scottish Green Party to build on the success of the Bute House Agreement.
Actions set out by the First Minister and the prospectus document to tackle poverty, build a fairer, greener and growing economy, and improve public services by 2026 include:
- a ‘New Deal for Scottish Business’ will be sought, with urgent discussion to agree how government can better support businesses and communities using policy levers such as Non-Domestic Rates.
- an extension of the Deposit Return Scheme launch date to March 2024, from August this year.
- an explicit commitment to support economic growth for a purpose – to help business and trade to thrive and maximise the opportunity for a fair, green economy.
- confirmation of a further £1.3 billion investment for the Scottish Child Payment over the next three years.
- improved cancer outcomes through better prevention and diagnostics, including expanded Rapid Cancer Diagnostic Services in Lanarkshire and Borders by June 2023.
- investment of up to £25 million to convert suitable properties into affordable homes for key workers and others, as part of an action plan to increase housing in remote, rural and island areas.
- confirmation of a six-month pilot removing peak-time fares from ScotRail services from October to make rail travel more accessible, available and affordable.
- the delivery of six new vessels to serve Scotland’s ferry network and a doubling of the charge point network for electric vehicles to at least 6,000.
- reinstating Scotland’s participation in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science (TIMSS) and Progress in International.
- Reading Literacy (PIRLS) studies to increase the availability of internationally comparable data on Scotland’s education performance
seeking a new agreement with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) to support the delivery of shared priorities, and legislation to give councils powers to apply a Local Visitor Levy on overnight stays in commercially let accommodation as additional means to raise revenue.
The First Minister said:
“Scotland is a land of opportunity, I’m very proud of that fact, I’m proud to be a product of that.
“My grandparents came to this country in the 1960s, barely speaking English, little money in their pockets. Despite the challenges they faced, and at times hostility they faced, due to their background, they overcame those barriers and provided a life for their children, and for their grandchildren that I will forever be grateful for.
“It is my responsibility to ensure every family in Scotland has that equality of opportunity, regardless of their background or where they live in Scotland.
“I am optimistic we can achieve that equality of opportunity, and the three missions that I have set out today, will determine the priorities of the government that I lead for the rest of this parliamentary session, and help us to achieve that.
“Together, we will be focused on the delivery, we will ensure that we have affordable, ambitious measures in place, which protect our environment, which protect business prosperity, they improve people’s well-being, and they reduce poverty.
“They will ensure the actions we take over the next three years, stand Scotland in good stead for the next decade to come. And they will use our present, very significant, strengths to deliver a fresh start for Scotland.”
The prospectus does not replace the Programme for Government 2023-24, which will be set out to Parliament with planned legislation after the summer recess.
This will be followed by the annual budget process, which will detail the Scottish Government’s strategic objectives for the coming financial year.