Unexpected change in Scotland: what does it mean for children?

Posted by / Thursday 23 June 2016 / Early intervention Government spending

I remember the polls in the run up to the Scottish Parliament elections. I remember discussing the outcome with friends and colleagues. I remember listening to the pundits on TV and radio. All the signs pointed to the SNP heading for another landslide victory. It was predicted that there would be no significant change to the Scottish political landscape.

But then Thursday 5 May 2016 happened, resulting in unexpected change indeed

The SNP Government lost its majority. The Scottish Conservatives overtook Scottish Labour as the principle opposition in the Parliament. And the Scottish Greens won one more seat than the Scottish Liberal Democrats.

The Scottish Parliament was designed to never have a majority government. It never did when Scottish Labour were in power. So when the SNP won its landslide majority Government in Holyrood, it is fair to say that it shook the Scottish political system.    

The now SNP minority Scottish Government has just published its Programme for Government 2016 / 2017. At its heart is a commitment to education and closing the attainment gap. A mission, it says, not just for itself, or for Parliament but for the whole of Scotland to accept – including Action for Children. And on behalf of Scotland’s disadvantaged children and young people, we do accept this mission.

Another important feature in the Programme for Government is the aim to be consensual and act on robust global evidence. A clear commitment to allow everyone, political parties and stakeholders, in Scotland and out, to help move Scotland forward.

In the spirit of consensus, the Scottish Government have looked to the Scottish Greens to examine introducing a Young Carers Allowance. They are engaging with the Scottish Liberal Democrats to look at mental health policy – notably, having a dedicated Minister for Mental Health who will oversee the development of a 10 year mental health strategy.

The Scottish Government’s Programme includes a number of announcements in which Action for Children has an interest:

  • Introduction of a baby box for all children born in Scotland.
  • Childcare expansion.
  • A maternity and early year’s allowance.
  • Guaranteed access to an extra childcare graduate by 2018 for nurseries in the most deprived areas.

As the saying goes, ‘the devil is in the detail’. Action for Children will be closely following developments as it becomes clearer how the Government intend to deliver these measures.

While 5 May resulted in unexpected change for Scotland, it also resulted in the potential for real change for Scotland’s disadvantaged children and young people.

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