Programme for Government 2015 – Public Address
Today is the start of a new parliamentary year and – as First Minister – today is the day I set out how my government will deliver for the people of Scotland over the next year
And how, in the longer term, we plan to create a better country for us all to live and work in.
I’m going to set out a few of those plans for you too.
This Government has a strong record of achievement.
We have delivered better services with reduced resources. school leaver destinations are the best on record; we have rebuilt or refurbished one fifth of all school buildings; crime is at a 40 year low; we have higher employment than the rest of the UK; and NHS waiting times are among the lowest ever recorded.
But I have spent the year traveling across Scotland listening to what people want and being open to new ideas to make things better.
That is why, this year, education is at the heart of our government plans. We aim to ensure that children in all parts of Scotland – whether in our least or our most affluent areas – have a fair chance to flourish.
To make sure that no child is being left behind, we will introduce new national standardised assessments for pupils in primaries 1, 4, 7 and in the third year of secondary school.
This is just one of our plans to support more rapid improvement in attainment where it is needed most.
For example our £100 million investment in improving standards is already ensuring that additional resources and innovative practices are directed at over 300 schools in our most deprived areas.
But I am also clear that people should not be living in poverty at all. That’s why we are working to make Scotland a fairer place too.
We are taking steps to tackle poverty. For example, last year, I set out a target to have 150 living wage accredited employers by the end of this year so people are paid a fair days pay for a fair days work.
There are currently more than 300. By next March I want there to be more than 500.
I have said all along that building a fairer society goes hand in hand with growing the economy.
And we are determined to do all we can to help support our businesses – this will include a new £40 million investment fund specifically for small and medium enterprises.
We also want to make sure that we can rely on our public services to deliver for us – I know that is vitally important to all of you.
So as well as continuing to work to improve the health service by transforming primary care we will also make our unified police service more responsive to the needs of local communities.
We will introduce eight bills over the coming year – including action on domestic violence and abuse, new regulation of crematoria following the awful practices at Mortonhall crematorium and protection for those who rent their homes.
And with the promise of more powers for tax and welfare coming to the Scottish Parliament, we will set out how we will use those powers to abolish the ‘bedroom tax’, to design a fairer system of social security for Scotland and to promote economic growth.
We are here to listen to what people want – and we want to ensure that more power is transferred to local communities across the country.
During the next year we will consult on legislation to give greater power to our island communities and we will invest in our Empowering Communities Fund.
I am committed to leading the most accessible government this country has ever had.
We will continue to listen to what you want and make sure that you have your say.
Because together we can create a fairer and more prosperous Scotland.