Our plan to build a fairer Scotland: what you need to know

Social justice was at the heart of the 2014 independence referendum debate.

To harness this enthusiasm for change, the SNP in government has led a conversation on how we can use the powers of the Scottish Parliament – and the limited new powers that are on their way – to tackle poverty and create genuine equality of opportunity.

Earlier this year the Scottish Government launched the Fairer Scotland Action Plan, which sets out five ambitions for 2030 and 50 actions to build a fairer country.

Here’s just some of what we’re doing to build a fairer Scotland.

1. We have introduced a new Child Poverty Bill, setting out new targets to eradicate child poverty by 2030.

If passed, the new law will introduce new income-based targets on child poverty that are significantly more ambitious than the original income targets scrapped by the Tory government in Westminster.

Read more about our action on child poverty here.

2. By 2021, we will almost double the amount of fully funded, high quality and flexible early years education – for all 3 and 4 year olds and our most vulnerable 2 year olds – from 16 hours a week to 30 hours a week.

Research at Heriot-Watt University identified improved childcare as the policy that could do most to reduce income inequality.

3. We will place a new duty on public bodies to consider the impact their decisions could have on poverty and economic disadvantage. 

Scotland will be the only part of the UK with this duty – after Theresa May decided not to go ahead with implementation across the UK, during her time as Home Secretary.

4. A £29 million fund will enable communities and the third sector to deliver projects that combat poverty.

Eligible projects could include initiatives to provide extra childcare, create jobs or to tackle food poverty.

5. We will build on the work of local Fairness and Poverty Commissions and will establish a national Poverty and Inequality Commission, which will include tackling child poverty as one of its major tasks.

Many local authorities have set up Fairness and Poverty Commissions and their reports have influenced the steps set out in the new Fairer Scotland Action Plan.

The new national commission will look at how we can support communities that are negatively affected by economic circumstances and deprivation.

6. We will take action to reduce youth unemployment by 40 per cent by 2021 and support young people into high quality careers.

As well as protecting free university tuition and maintaining full time equivalent college places, we’ll take further steps to ensure that we widen access to university. And we’ll introduce a new Jobs Grant for 16-24 year olds returning to work after six months unemployment too.

Read more about our plan for Scotland’s young people here.

7. We will ensure that older people can enjoy decent and fulfilling lives. 

We are continuing to fund the concessionary bus pass for older people and we have protected free personal care for those who need it. To tackle fuel poverty, we will invest half a billion pounds in keeping warms home and energy bills down.
We will take action to support older people who want to keep working and to maximise the incomes of all. We will also develop Scotland’s first strategy for tackling social isolation.

Read more about our action for older people here.