Mon 18 Sep 2023

Programme for Government

Scotland's First Minster presented the Scottish Government's Programme for Government 2023-2024 on 5 September 2023. 

The context for the Programme is the three missions Mr Yousaf set out shortly after becoming First Minister which were Equality, Opportunity and Community. Mr Yousaf stressed the need for delivering a "Team Scotland" approach through consensus and collaboration.

The Programme lists the Bills to be brought forward in the forthcoming session of the Scottish Parliament.  They are:-

  • Agriculture - to deliver the Scottish Government's Vision for Agriculture which aims to provide Scotland with a framework to support and work with farmers and crofters to meet more of Scotland's food needs sustainably and to farm and croft with nature.
  • Budget (No 3) - The annual Budget Bill provides parliamentary approval for the Scottish Government’s spending plans and allocates resources to strategic objectives.
  • Cladding Remediation - to enable the Scottish Government to undertake urgent measures to remediate a building with unsafe cladding materials that present a risk to life.
  • Education - a bill to provide for the establishment of a new public body responsible for qualifications in Scotland and the creation of an independent education inspectorate.
  • Electoral Reform - a bill to make improvements to the law in relation to Scottish Parliament and Local Government elections.
  • Gender Representation on Public Boards (Scotland) Act 2018 - remedial legislation to remove the definition of “woman” from section 2 of the Act following judicial review.
  • Housing Bill creating new tenants' rights and the introduction of long term rent controls and new duties aimed at addressing homelessness.
  • Human Rights - the Bill will incorporate into Scots law the international economic, social and cultural rights, and rights relating to women, disabled people and people who experience racism.
  • A Bill to update the law around Judicial Factors
  • Land Reform - the Bill will improve transparency of land ownership, further empower communities, and help ensure that large-scale landholdings are delivering in the public interest.
  • Misogyny - the Bill will create new offences related to misogynistic conduct, providing Police Scotland with new powers to hold to account perpetrators of misogynistic behaviours.
  • Scottish Aggregates Tax - the Bill will set out the key arrangements for a devolved tax on the commercial exploitation of aggregates in Scotland.
  • Scottish Languages - the Bill will provide legal recognition for Gaelic and Scots.
  • Social Security Amendment - the Bill will enhance the Scottish system of social security.

Those Bills support a programme of plans and commitments which were set out in the Programme for Government on relation to the three missions as follows:-


  • There is a commitment to work with Local Government and other partners to develop the infrastructure and services necessary to provide childcare from nine months until the end of primary school in certain geographical areas. 
  • There is a commitment to continuing investment in the Scottish Child Payment worth £25 per child per week, and in continued provision of free bus travel for over two million people, including all young people under the age of 22. 
  • There will be a Housing Bill creating new tenants' rights and the introduction of long term rent controls and new duties aimed at addressing homelessness. 
  • A pilot scheme on train fares is expected to make rail fares more affordable (cutting car use). 
  • Fair Work is considered critical and the Scottish Government is committed to raising wages and promoting Fair Work as set out in its Fair Work Action Plan.


  • The Programme commits to resetting the Scottish Government's relationship with the business community with a just transition to net zero at the heart of its approach. 
  • There is a commitment to work with business to identify and remove unnecessary regulation, if a good case for that can be made. 
  • A new Small Business Unit will be established to ensure that the interests of small businesses are always considered.
  • A new enterprise package will be implemented making it easier to start and scale a business with the aim of unleashing innovation and entrepreneurial talent. 
  • There will be a focus on Scotland's universities through spinouts and commercialisation of research.  
  • Scaling up renewables is central to the strategy and a sector deal will be established with the onshore wind industry.
  • A Green Industrial Strategy will be developed setting out how the Scottish Government intends to help businesses and investors realise the economic opportunities of the global transition to net zero and of creating good, well-paid jobs in sectors such as offshore wind and hydrogen. 
  • The Scottish Government will set out through the Climate Change Plan how emissions will be driven down across transport, heat and other areas. 
  • Education reform will form part of this opportunity agenda.


  • The Scottish Government will work with Local Authorities under the Verity House Agreement to progress shared priorities. 
  • Greater investment will be made in social care with a commitment to increase the pay of social care workers.  
  • Work will continue to reduce hospital waiting lists. 
  • Efforts will continue to close the poverty-related attainment gap in schools.  
  • Justice agencies will be supported in reducing court backlogs and reducing waiting times for justice including reform of the justice system through a comprehensive package of legislation.

The Programme is diverse and wide ranging but has clear themes on strengthening community, tackling poverty, supporting business and to ensure a fairer Scotland in which to live and work.  Mr Yousaf noted the difficult public spending environment and made the point that the Programme would be subject to conclusion of the Budget process.  He also expressed his view that Scotland does not yet have all powers necessary to fully transform its economy and society and for that reason the Scottish Government continues to develop the case for independence.  On that front, the Cabinet Secretary for Constitution, External Affairs and Culture confirms the intention to build the case for an independent Scotland within Europe through the Building a New Scotland prospectus series.

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