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Programme for Government – our response

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Earlier this week, on Tuesday 5th September, First Minister Humza Yousaf published his Programme for Government for 2023/24. The Programme for Government (PfG) is set out each September, as the Scottish Parliament returns from it’s summer recess, and details the work the Scottish Government will progress over the coming year.

Several parts of this year’s Programme cover policies young people have told SYP they are passionate about, including the reconsideration stage of the UNCRC Scotland Bill being brought back to The Scottish Parliament, this will enshrine children and young people’s rights into law and help protect them. On education, we await further details on what any future Education Bill would look like and how the government intends to respond to the National Discussion and the Independent Review of Qualifications and Assessment – MSYPs will continue to work to ensure young people are at the heart of the new education system in Scotland.

On our National Campaign Priority on the Right to Food, there are further delays to the rollout of free school meals, recognising the impact of the pandemic and other key issues, though there is a commitment to work with Local Authorities to prepare for expanding free school meal provision to Primary 6 and 7s by 2026.

The PfG is limited on details relating to the circular economy, but we look forward to seeing the Bill progress through Parliament. In line with our Drug-Related Harm campaign there is also a development of a charter that protects the rights of people who use drugs as well as continuing to engage with the UK Government on the urgent need to reform drug laws.

We’ve laid out key points from the First Minister’s speech below, on our campaigning priorities, UNCRC and youth work as well as other key policies that have been developed by MSYPs:

National Campaign Priorities

  • Drug-related Harms as a Public Health Issue
    • Support proposals to establish a Drug Consumption rooms
    • Advocate the UK Government for drug law reform on reserved matters
    • Development of a ‘Charter of Rights’ for people who use drugs

  • Right to Food
    • Work with COSLA to prepare schools for the expansion of universal free school meal provision to Primary 6 and Primary 7 pupils
    • Expansion to start in 2024 for people receiving the Scottish Child Payment, before expanding to all primary school aged children by 2026
    • Work with councils on the quality of school meals, linking food with attainment levels and pupil’s ability to learn
      • You can find out more about SYP’s Right to Food priority on our campaign webpages

  • Climate Crisis
    • Drive a transition to a circular economy through supporting the Circular Economy Bill
    • Publish a Circular Economy and Waste Route Map
      • You can find out more about SYP’s Climate Crisis priority on our campaign webpages

UNCRC and youth work

    • SYP will continue to engage with decision makers to ensure Parliament can reconsider the Bill as a matter or urgency to protect and defend young people’s rights.

  • Youth work
    • The First Minister’s speech didn’t include any reference to youth work and the impact it has on children and young people across Scotland. MSYPs have raised this issue consistently for a number of years, including in the last few months at meetings with the Cabinet, the Government’s Executive Team as well as at The First Minister’s Anti-Poverty Summit.

Other policies

  • Equalities
    • Introduce a ‘Human Rights Bill’, which is currently being consulted on – SYP will provide our response later this year.
    • Women and girls: Support schools to tackle gender-based violence and criminalise misogynistic behaviour.
    • LGBT+ and gender identity: Consult on ending conversion practices, publish a Non-Binary Equality Action Plan and improve gender identity healthcare to ensure it is human rights based and person centred
    • People with disabilities: Publish an Immediate Priorities Plan for disabled people, recognising the impact of the cost of living crisis on people with disabilities.
    • People of colour: Work towards eradicating racism in Scotland by investing in an ‘Anti-Racism Observatory’.

  • Buffer zones
    • Work with Gillian Mackay MSP on her Member’s Bill to introduce buffer zones or safe access zones, around abortion services
    • By the end of the parliamentary term in 2026, review abortion law to ensure that it is ‘first and foremost a healthcare matter’ (rather than a legal or justice issue)

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