First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced a programme of reform that she claims will put poverty and social justice at the heart of Government planning.

A priority for this will be the formation of an Independent Commission to examine the fairness of the Council Tax system.

The programme includes plans to appoint an independent adviser on poverty and inequality, who will hold the Scottish Government to account on policies that may increase poverty and disadvantage.

There are also plans to establish a Fair Work convention and while the Scottish Government is unable to make the paying of the Living Wage a mandatory condition when awarding public sector contracts, the programme reveals that Scottish Government contracts will have the paying of the Living wage as a central priority. Businesses in general will be encouraged to pay the Living Wage and will be rewarded with a package of support for doing so.  She also pledged a 50/50 gender split on public sector boards by 2020.

Sturgeon reiterated a commitment to extending free childcare from 16 to 30 hours if the SNP are re-elected in the next Scottish parliamentary elections and announced a doubling of funding for the Impact for Access Fund, which will encourage young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to take up higher education, with a target of the 20% most deprived young people gaining 20% of university places. Youth employability will remain a priority with an incremental increase of modern apprenticeships to 30,000 places by 2020.

To support the introduction of the Community Empowerment Act, a £10m Empowering Communities Fund will be added to existing funding for the People and Communities Fund, while a the Scottish Government will build on land reform achievements with a radical new programme to empower communities.

Source: Scottish Government