The Scottish Government has today outlined its Programme for Government for 2022-2023.
Oxfam Scotland will examine the proposals in detail but our initial response, below, is focused on tackling the overlaps between care and poverty, and the actions needed to tackle the climate crisis.
On care and poverty, Jamie Livingstone, Head of Oxfam Scotland, said:
“Right now, too many people face the injustice of poverty as a consequence of caring for someone. This particularly impacts women, who provide most care. Rising energy, food and fuel bills are heaping yet more pressure onto paid and unpaid carers, and those they care for, on top of the pandemic’s ongoing impacts.
“The measures in this Programme for Government have the potential to create positive change, including the welcome increase to the Scottish Child Payment to support low-income families.
“We also welcome the announcement to design and test options for all‑year‑round school‑age childcare systems, and the new Winter Heating Payment for low-income households.
“However, the new National Care Service Bill must now deliver fair work for all in social care and ensure high-quality, accessible, and flexible care is available to everyone, otherwise it won’t deliver transformative change. Unpaid carers are also facing significant financial pressures, and it’s essential that the new Scottish Carer’s Assistance urgently increases the payment’s value while ensuring it reaches many more people. The rent freeze will prevent further cost rises for some but won’t put more money into people’s pockets now.
“The truth is that we need fast, deep and sustained action to fully value and invest in care and all those who provide it. The Scottish Government must use the imminent review of Scotland’s national outcomes to end the invisibility of care and carers, and finally place care at the very heart of policy and spending priorities.”
Oxfam Scotland is supporting the coalition “A Scotland that cares” campaign for a new national outcome to fully value and invest in those experiencing care and all those providing it. The campaign says this will place Scotland on a path towards transformative change, while transparently tracking progress.
The Scottish Government is preparing to review the 11 existing national outcomes, which it says describe ‘the kind of Scotland it wants to create’, for the first time in five years.
On the climate crisis, Livingstone added:
“The First Minister is right to argue that we must respond to the cost-of-living crisis in ways that also deliver for the climate, but this Programme for Government could still do more to reflect the urgency of reducing Scotland’s emissions. After all, we have less than eight years left to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5°C.
“Scotland’s emissions are falling, but we’ve missed three out of the last four legal targets. With warnings that future targets may also be missed, we need faster policy action and substantially more investment.
“The climate crisis affects everyone but it hurts people living in poverty the most, so the new Fuel Insecurity Fund is welcome. However, alongside short-term support, the Scottish Government must use every devolved lever to cut emissions and make polluters pay for the damage they are creating.
“They must accelerate the just transition away from fossil fuels through an ambitious Energy Strategy and significantly reduce consumption and waste through the Circular Economy Bill. Ultimately, we must dramatically accelerate the scale-up of renewables and energy efficiency schemes, while ensuring that costs do not fall on low-income households.”
The Scottish Government’s latest data on Scotland’s emissions can be accessed here: https://www.gov.scot/publications/scottish-greenhouse-gas-statistics-2020/
The UK Committee on Climate Change has warned that “annual targets during the 2020s will be very difficult to meet, even with the strongest climate policies”: https://www.theccc.org.uk/publication/progress-reducing-emissions-in-scotland-2021-report-to-parliament/
For more information, contact: Natalie Terry, Oxfam Scotland; firstname.lastname@example.org / 07906139293