Natalie Mauchline provides a preview of the Programme for Government for 2020-21 and what could be included. 

The Scottish Government will announce its Programme for Government 2020-21 tomorrow. It is the final programme before the 2021 election. As there will not be a full legislative year, it is expected there will be fewer bills introduced than previous years.

Not a normal PfG

The First Minister has said the Programme for Government will focus on addressing the economic, health and social crisis caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. While also protecting public health, the Scottish Government has said the PfG will include plans to help businesses and communities recover through the creation of jobs, addressing inequalities and promoting life-long health. The Scottish Government previously committed to a jobs guarantee for young people, with further information on how the scheme will function expected tomorrow. The First Minister has insisted it is essential that the virus does not define Scotland’s future.

Scotland declared a climate emergency last year. The First Minister has said the PfG will also include plans on how Scotland will reach net-zero emissions by 2045. Common Wealth released a series of recommendations for Scotland’s sustainable recovery from COVID-19, including a Green New Deal, the expansion of renewable energy generation, increasing Scotland’s housing retrofitting programme and the introduction of a series of tax changes aimed at supporting climate and economic justice, such as a Frequent Flyer Levy. A response to the recent report with recommendations on developing a world-class technology sector in Scotland is also expected to be included in the PfG. The report from Mark Logan of Skyscanner called for a national network of hubs for tech start-ups, establishing a new fund to make strategic investments in the Scottish tech sector and offering world-class Silicon Valley training programmes.

Campaign ‘Asks’

Labour has called on the Government to listen to the concerns of charities and experts by bringing forward an equivalent of the Scottish Child Payment as part of the PfG. The Children’s Commissioner and the Chair of the Poverty & Inequality Commission have warned delaying the Scottish Child Payment until February 2021 would lead to a “cold blast of economic hardship”. The Liberal Democrats have also called for a package of measures to address the impact of COVID-19, including the reversal of the year-long delay in the entitlement to 1,140 hours of childcare.

The STUC is calling for a significant public sector intervention to create jobs, address inequality and to ensure the recovery benefits working people, not just those at the top. In a briefing issued to all members, the STUC has asked for the introduction of a £2 pay rise for all key workers, the creation of a National Care Service, the establishment of a publicly owned energy company, the procurement of a new fleet of electric buses ahead of COP26, the protection of private renters with an immediate rent freeze, and a full no evictions policy until at least April 2021.

Other bills in progress (including members’ bills):

  • Culpable Homicide (Scotland) Bill
  • Defamation and Malicious Publication (Scotland) Bill
  • Dogs (Protection of Livestock) (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill
  • European Charter of Local Self-Government (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill
  • Fair Rents (Scotland) Bill
  • Forensic Medical Services (Victims of Sexual Offences) (Scotland) Bill
  • Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill
  • Heat Networks (Scotland) Bill
  • Liability for NHS Charges (Treatment of Industrial Disease) (Scotland) Bill
  • Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Bill
  • Post-mortem Examinations (Defence Time Limit) (Scotland) Bill
  • Protection of Workers (Retail and Age-restricted Goods and Services) (Scotland) Bill
  • Redress for Survivors (Historical Child Abuse in Care) (Scotland) Bill
  • Scottish Parliament (Assistance for Political Parties) Bill
  • Social Security Administration and Tribunal Membership (Scotland) Bill
  • Solicitors in the Supreme Courts of Scotland (Amendment) Bill
  • Tied Pubs (Scotland) Bill
  • Travelling Funfairs (Licensing) (Scotland) Bill
  • UK Withdrawal from the European Union (Continuity) (Scotland) Bill
  • UK Withdrawal from the European Union (Legal Continuity) (Scotland) Bill
  • Welfare of Dogs (Scotland) Bill

2020-21 potential commitments and bills:

  • Child poverty bill
  • Technology sector measures
  • Climate emergency/green recovery bill
  • UK internal market response
  • Youth job guarantee
  • Homelessness/evictions freeze

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