SNP Manifesto 2021: What we’re doing for young people

The SNP is determined that every child, regardless of their circumstances, should get the best start in life.

Our ambition is for Scotland to be the best place in the world to grow up.

We believe Scotland should be a land of opportunity. Make it Both Votes SNP to:

End the digital divide

With the increased reliance on digital connectivity, the pandemic shone a light on the barriers of digital exclusion.

That’s why we will provide every primary and secondary school child in Scotland with a laptop or tablet to get online – including a free internet connection and the support to use it.

And we will establish a National Digital Academy which will allow learners to access the full higher curriculum – any day, any place, any age.

This new approach would end the postcode lottery of subject choice, and enable people to study for their Highers whilst also being in work or fulfilling caring commitments.

Tear down barriers to learning

We firmly believe that access to education should be based on the ability to learn, not the ability to pay. That’s why, as long as the SNP are in government, there will not be tuition fees in Scotland.

We will end the exclusion of poorer pupils from trips and practical activities by removing charges for less well off families.

And we will increase the school uniform grant to at least £120 in primary school and £150 in secondary school.

Protect our planet and tackle the climate crisis

We recognise that action is required now to tackle the climate crisis and ensure Scotland becomes a net zero nation.

We will take real action to transform how we heat our homes, to increase renewable energy and to invest in hydrogen as a fuel source.

And we will deliver a green transport revolution by nationalising ScotRail, electrifying our rail lines, switching to electric cars and buses, and increasing walking and cycling.

Tackle classroom hunger

To make sure no child goes hungry in the classroom, we will provide free school breakfasts and lunches to primary school pupils – for all classes, all year round.

Looking longer term, we will pilot free nutritious school breakfasts in secondary schools, and based on the findings of the pilot project, explore the universal breakfast provision in secondary schools.

Strengthen our education system

We will invest a further £1 billion over the next parliament in measures to recover from COVID, improve attainment and close the attainment gap.

To help us do that, we’ll recruit 3500 additional teachers and classroom assistants – allowing teachers more time out of the classroom to prepare lessons and improve their skills.

We will take forward the recommendations of the OECD review of the design and flexibility of Curriculum for Excellence, to ensure that the benefits of CfE are delivered for all pupils.

And we’ll ensure access for all young people to evidence-based prevention education on consent and healthy relationships.

Improve mental health services

Mental health is one of the most important public health issues facing Scotland today.

We will ensure at least 1% of frontline NHS spending is directed to child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) support and services by the end of the parliament – and reshape how it’s delivered with our mental health strategy.

Our new National Transitions Strategy will improve outcomes for children and young people experiencing mental ill health in their transitions to adulthood.

Create and renew safe places to play

We will deliver a programme of activities for children and young people over the summer to help them socialise, play and reconnect following the experience of lockdown.

We will renew every play park in Scotland, so that all children have access to quality play in their own community, backed by £60 million.

Ensure opportunities for all

We will continue our Young Person’s Guarantee to ensure that every young person aged between 16 and 24 in Scotland has the opportunity to go to university or college, secure a job, an apprenticeship, or training programme, or take part in a formal volunteering programme.

And we will equip all school leavers, regardless of their background, with a School Leavers’ Toolkit of practical skills for life – such as financial literacy, budgeting, civic and democratic rights.

Abolish council tax for under-22s

In recognition of the impact COVID has had on the lives and opportunities of young people, we will increase the age at which young people become eligible for council tax from 18 to 22.

For a young person living in a Band B property, that’s an annual saving of around £750.

Free, greener travel

We will extend free bus travel to everyone under the age of 22, helping young people to see friends and family, get to work, college or university and to travel across Scotland.

We will provide free bikes for all children of school age who cannot afford them – and ensure every child in Scotland leaves school with the ability to cycle safely.

Strengthen children’s rights and representation

Building on the success of Scotland’s first Citizens Assembly, we will establish an assembly for children and young people under 16 to ensure their better representation.

And we will implement the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child within the first six months – if the UK Tory government attempts to strike it down, we will fight a legal challenge.

Reform the justice system for children and young people

We want to ensure that the journey from disclosure to recovery respects the rights and wellbeing of children and young people.

Instead of having to go to multiple different services in multiple locations, all the care and support a child and their family needs will be delivered under one roof – at the new ‘Bairn’s Hoose’.

We will ensure that every child victim/witness will have access to a Bairn’s Hoose by 2025.

Deliver fairness for care experienced young people

We remain fully committed to Keep The Promise – implementing the findings and recommendations of the Independent Care Review by 2030.

We will invest £10 million to establish a new Care Experienced Grant.

This will be an annual grant of £200 paid to support around 50,000 young care experienced people between the ages of 16 and 26 – who often don’t have access to the ‘bank of mum and dad’ – with £2000 over a decade as they enter adulthood.