25 May 2016
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon set out the priorities for her government over the next five years, calling this time “a precious opportunity” to work across parliament to make real improvements.
Education is at the heart of the First Minister’s priorities, with Deputy First Minister John Swinney to publish a delivery plan to close the attainment gap in Scottish education before schools break for summer holidays, and for the Scottish Government to hold a major summit on raising attainment in the next few months.
— STV News (@STVNews) May 25, 2016
In addition, an extra £750 million will be invested directly in school education over the next five years.
— BBC Scotland News (@BBCScotlandNews) May 25, 2016
The First Minister highlighted that equality of opportunity “starts well before the school years and extends far beyond the school gates”, and announced plans for a baby box for every child born in Scotland containing essential items to provide practical help for parents.
Childcare – “the most important infrastructure project of this parliament” – will be expanded to help parents into work. Just as importantly, the First Minister announced that the Government will consider the introduction of a Young Carers’ Allowance to provide extra support for young people with significant caring responsibilities.
New powers over income tax will further increase the importance of the economy in the next five years as there will be a direct link between those who are in work and paying tax. In addition, broadband is at the top of the list of priorities for productivity: the government aims for all premises to have broadband connectivity by 2021, which will transform businesses in remote and rural areas, in particular.
Small businesses, “the lifeblood of our economy” will also benefit from the government’s plans, as the Small Business Bonus will be extended by increasing the relief threshold which will lift 100,000 properties out of business rates.
The First Minister concluded that the priorities over the next five years emphasise:
a sense of empowerment – for individuals, for families, for communities and for our country as a whole…by doing so, we can make lasting progress towards true equality of opportunity.”