Programme for Government

Tuesday September 1st 2020

Scottish Parliament

Written by Midlothian View Reporter, Luke Jackson

The First Minister this afternoon outlined the Scottish Government’s legislative programme for the year ahead, as well as a variety of other initiatives.

Speaking in Parliament, the First Minister said the Scottish Government would prioritise work to suppress the virus – building on its commitment to COVID-19 testing, contact tracing, and surveillance.

The COVID-19 response will be bolstered with the launch of Protect Scotland, a new proximity tracing app, later this month. The app will add an additional means of notifying people that they may have been exposed to the virus and that they should isolate to prevent onward transmission.

The First Minister also set out the government’s plans for renewal while ensuring a green recovery is at the heart of the economic recovery, with job creation, support for health and wellbeing and work to tackle inequalities all high on the agenda.

The FM outlined a new Transition Training Fund; drives to boost digital skills and infrastructure; and a programme to decarbonise homes and other buildings.

The First Minister said:

“The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a profound impact on our health and wellbeing, on business and the economy – indeed, on our whole way of life. That is true here in Scotland, and across the globe.

“Today’s Programme is clear that suppressing COVID is our most immediate priority – and it will remain so for some time. However, it also makes clear that we will not simply hunker down and wait for the storm to pass.

“This Programme for Government sets out plans for a stronger, more resilient and sustainable economy – with a laser focus on creating new, good, green jobs.

“It guarantees opportunities for young people – and refuses to accept that their generation will carry the economic scars of COVID into adulthood.

“It sets out plans to strengthen and reform our public services, including our NHS. And it takes the first step on the road to a National Care Service.

“It promotes equality and wellbeing, with decisive action to combat child poverty. At its heart is the new, game-changing Scottish Child Payment.

“We must treat the COVID-19 challenge not as a brake on our ambitions but as an accelerant – helping us shape a stronger, greener, fairer future.”

In addition, today it was announced the Scottish Government intends to examine how to inject new life into local communities and economies, through the development of so-called ’20 minute towns’.

The Federation of Small Businesses, FSB, said many of the measures reflected calls they had been making for some time, but warned that many firms need more immediate help.

Andrew McRae, FSB’s Scotland policy chair, said:

“It will be easy for the Scottish small business community to get behind many of the measures that the FM outlined today.

“For example, for years FSB has talked to the need to develop resilient local economies with smaller firms at their heart. A good way to do this is to increase the share of public contracts that smaller firms win, especially those attached to any decarbonisation programmes.

“It also makes sense to increase the amount of economic activity in our towns and cities during the day, so the development of local work hubs, or more co-working spaces, in local communities could pay dividends.

“The First Minister also put jobs at the top of her government’s agenda. That’s absolutely the right move, though every initiative needs to have small businesses at its core. That’s because, after the last crash, nine in ten people who moved from unemployment found work in either a smaller business or through self-employment.

“Similarly, action to help workers and businesses adapt to the digital revolution – now accelerated by the current crisis – is most welcome. We know that one in seven Scottish smaller firms innovated during this crisis and we need to lock in those gains.

“Our big concern is that few of these initiatives will kick-in overnight and at least some businesses are reaching the end of the road. We may still need new short and medium term measures to help important local firms through this period of crisis.”

Other measures include:

– accelerating the roll-out of Community Treatment and Assessment Centres so more people can receive medical care in their community rather than going to hospital

– expanding digital access to health care to ensure more people can get the help they need

– £1.6 billion low carbon funding to secure a just transition to a net zero economy, including a £100 million Green Jobs Fund, investment in heat and energy efficiency and industrial decarbonisation

– a 20 year vision for energy efficient, zero carbon housing, with access to outdoor space, transport links, digital connectivity and community services

– £500 million for infrastructure to support active travel

– bringing 50,000 people into the digital world through the Connecting Scotland programme and creating a world class digital eco-system in Scotland

– introducing legislation on domestic abuse protection orders and progressing legislation to improve forensic medical examinations for victims of sexual assault

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