The Programme for Government was laid before the Scottish Parliament on 1 September.

Set in the context of the continued effort to suppress Covid-19, the programme sought to respond to the unprecedented social, public health and economic challenges facing the country, whilst looking ahead and starting to chart a course to recovery.

Whether the programme was ‘radical’ enough is of course in the eye of the beholder.  For some, announcements on social care were not enough.  The focus on a ‘green recovery’ received a caveated welcome.

And of course, there is (and has to be) a strong focus on our young people who have been hard hit as the economic crash took hold.  Yet, we know from a recent employability session with charities in Glasgow that other groups are at clear risk as a result of this pandemic – groups already facing the greatest barriers to participation such as disabled people, women and individuals from BME communities.

The wider economic response to the pandemic seeks to ensure opportunities to retrain as the job market evolves – transition training funding to help people to retrain and an investment of £100m in a Green Jobs fund were announced, alongside the Scottish Youth Guarantee.

The role and significant contribution of the third sector to the COVID pandemic response is widely recognised in the Programme for Government.  Specific mentions within the document cover:

  • Acknowledgement of the role of the sector in job creation, the new Youth Guarantee, employability support and in wider economic recovery including local ‘Community Wealth Building”;
  • Recognition of the challenges facing the sector at a time when it is really needed. Part of the Communities Fund will refocus to support recovery and sustainability for charities. There may be additional support available in the future;
  • Recognition of the third sector’s role in supporting mental health and people in distress/crisis and within the wider justice system.
  • Third sector access to funding linked to the Scotland Loves Local campaign;

Plans to review Charity Law will re-start, and the aim is to have proposals published by the end of the next Parliament.

On social care, an immediate review of Adult Social Care, with a move towards a “National Care Service” were a key announcement.  A stakeholder group will be established to look at how social care is operating just now. This will feed into wider Government recovery structures and the review of Social Care.  What’s missing is any mention of social care for children (not all covered by the recent Care Review) and the transition from child to adult social work/care services.  There is still no real clarity of what might constitute a “National Care Service” with potential implications for our sector given the scale to which we are involved in delivering social care and other services in communities.

On Social Security, announcements about the (delayed) Scottish Child Payment and the new Child Winter Heating payment are not new.  Many in the third sector sector continue to call for earlier implementation given the scale of the economic tsunami hurtling toward us. Linked to this, a £10m Tenant Hardship Loan fund and increasing DHPs were announced alongside continued protection for tenants in relation to evictions.

Lastly there is wide support for the incorporation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child fully into Scots law and continued commitment to take forward the recommendations of the Care Review

For the full detail and access to the First Minister’s speech, click here.

You can also watch a video covering the main details of the Programme here.