First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, announced the plans and objectives for her Government earlier this week.
These policy and legislative priorities include:
- A package of land reform, including the removal of tax breaks for shooting estates through the Land Reform Bill which will help expand the Land Fund to £10 million a year;
- £30 million boost to Help to Buy aimed specifically at small to medium sized house builders;
- An independent commission to report on alternatives to the council tax by Autumn 2015;
- An additional £10 million for a new Empowering Communities Fund to make sure people can be more involved in the decisions that affect their lives;
- New target to increase the number of people from disadvantaged backgrounds accessing higher education. Improved good governance through the Higher Education Governance Bill;
- Funding to more than double the number of organisations signed up to the Living Wage Accreditation Scheme and ensure more people are paid a fair wage;
- Increased job opportunities by raising the number of Modern Apprenticeships to 30,000 a year by 2020;
- A pledge to get a 50/50 gender split on Boards by 2020 to advance gender equality;
- Consultation on the introduction of a new specific offence for cases of domestic abuse and protect potential victims of trafficking through Human Trafficking and Exploitation Bill;
- More power for carers over the services that affect them through the Carers Bill;
- Action to reduce the availability of tobacco and e-cigarettes through the Public Health Bill;
- Introduce a ‘duty of candour’ to protect patients from ill-treatment and give more powers to hospital inspection teams to close wards if they have concerns over safety;
- New £5 million investment to tackle delayed discharge in hospitals.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:
“Today I am giving an indication of how the Government I lead intends to carry itself – in a way that is open, listening, accessible and decentralising.
“A Government with the strongest focus on growing our economy, protecting public services, tackling inequality and empowering our communities.
“These plans aim to build a sense of shared endeavor about how we create a wealthier and more equal society. And it is founded on three key priorities – participation, prosperity and fairness.
“I intend that we will be the most open and accessible government that Scotland has had – and these policies are the first step.
“We know that a strong economy is essential to our success as a nation and we have had significant economic successes in recent years.
“Of course, the biggest investment we can make in Scotland’s future is in our people.
“It is well understood that a strong economy is essential to a fair society. But we need to recognise that the reverse is true too. A fair society also supports a strong economy.”