Ending Scotland’s contribution to climate change and securing a positive future for generations to come are the focus of this year’s Programme for Government, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced in Parliament.
Following the First Minister’s acknowledgement of a global climate emergency earlier this year, the Programme for Government sets out the Scottish Government’s next steps to tackle climate change, including a landmark investment of more than £500 million to improve bus infrastructure across the country to encourage more people to use public transport.
The First Minister also announced plans to decarbonise Scotland’s railways by 2035 and make the Highlands and Islands the world’s first net zero aviation region by 2040.
She also confirmed the first wave of schools to be built or refurbished through a new £1 billion school investment programme will be announced later this month and an extra £15 million will be provided to help improve additional support for learning.
An additional £20 million of funding will help tackle the public health emergency of drug deaths in Scotland. The Child Payment, which will benefit low income families with young children by £500 each year, will now be introduced by Christmas 2020 – ahead of the original schedule.
Other measures include:
- a ‘Green New Deal’, harnessing the power of the Scottish National Investment Bank and creating a £3 billion package of investments to attract green finance to Scotland
- develop regulations so that new homes from 2024 must use renewable or low carbon heat
- targeting a minimum of £30 million of support for renewable heat projects
- making the first Job Start Payments in spring 2020
- putting in place a Women’s Health Plan to tackle women’s heath inequalities
- continuing to support mental health, with a 24/7 crisis support service for children and young people and their families, a community wellbeing service enabling self-referral for children and young people and a £5 million investment in a community perinatal mental health service across Scotland
- taking forward planning to mitigate the worst consequences of a ‘no deal’ Brexit
The First Minister also confirmed the Referendums Bill will go forward this year and that the Scottish Government will ask, during the passage of the Bill, for the transfer of power to hold an independence referendum within this term of Parliament.
The First Minister said:
This Programme for Government will put health, prosperity and wellbeing at its heart, and will reinforce Scotland’s place as a dynamic, open, innovative economy.
In the last 12 months we have made important progress in creating a better and fairer country and this year’s Programme for Government builds on that record.
Earlier this year, I acknowledged that Scotland – like the rest of the world – faces a climate emergency. We are now committed to achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045 at the latest – earlier than any other UK nation.
This year’s Programme for Government is an important part of our response to the climate emergency, containing measures which will reduce emissions while supporting sustainable and inclusive growth.
It sets out actions which will make a difference for years to come. It details measures which can help make our country the best in the world to grow up, learn, work and live. It meets the challenges of the future, while staying true to our enduring values.
However, alongside these crucial steps, we will continue to plan for the possibility of a ‘no deal’ Brexit and, as long as this remains a risk, the Scottish Government will work as hard as we can to mitigate the impact on families, communities and businesses across the country.
Local MSP Gordon Macdonald said:
The SNP has achieved a huge amount in government – in just the last year we’ve increased NHS funding, increased teacher numbers and pay and delivered brand new benefits through our Scottish Social Security Agency.
Our plan for the year ahead is an ambitious set of proposals to tackle climate change and build a fairer country.
Even in the midst of Westminster chaos and instability, the Scottish Government is determined to get on with improving lives in Edinburgh and across Scotland.
But it cannot be stressed enough – while we are doing everything we can to move Scotland forward, the threat to our economy and our society posed by Boris Johnson’s plan for a No Deal Brexit remains.