A major reform of mental health services, investment in infrastructure, and legislation to underpin a Scottish National Investment Bank are at the forefront of the Scottish Government’s priorities for the year ahead.
The First Minister delivered her Programme for Government during a speech to the Scottish Parliament today.
It included details of a £250m health investment package that will deliver dedicated mental health counsellors in schools, extra training for teachers, and an additional 250 school nurses to offer emotional and mental health support and provide more advice for young people and their families dealing with mental health issues.
It also sets out a national mission to reach the most ambitious long-term level of infrastructure spend in Scotland, with a commitment to invest an additional £7bn – over and above existing plans – on schools, hospitals, transport, digital connectivity, and clean energy by 2026.
An Export Growth Plan will see £20m invested in a range of measures, including support for 150 businesses to increase overseas activity, whilst a new Fair Work plan will see living wage, gender pay transparency, and the exclusion of zero hours contracts become conditions for business support.
“Last year’s Programme for Government set us on a path to address the big challenges faced by Scotland and developed economies around the world and it presented a clear vision of the kind of country we want to be,” said Sturgeon.
“This Programme for Government flows from that vision and builds on the progress of the last year and indeed the last decade. And it ensures that we remain focused on delivering for today and investing for tomorrow.
“It continues and accelerates the major reforms underway in our health, education and justice systems – underpinned by our new progressive system of income tax. It seeks to make further progress on tackling inequality and reducing poverty. It sets out the next steps in the operation of our new social security system. And it builds on our work to support Scotland’s economy and encourage innovation.
“As the terms of Brexit become clearer in the months ahead, we will consider and set out our view on how Scotland’s interests can best be protected and advanced. This Programme for Government will be impacted by Brexit, but it is not defined by it – instead it sets out how we intend to deliver on our vision of a healthier, wealthier and fairer Scotland.”
Picture: Nicola Sturgeon announcing rural broadband investment at Tomintoul earlier this year.