Five things to expect in Scotland’s programme for government

Free childcare, a national care service and a second indyref will all feature in the First Minister's statement.

Five things to expect in Scotland’s programme for government STV News
The SNP and the Greens have signed a cooperation agreement.

Nicola Sturgeon will set out the Scottish Government’s plans for the coming year later on Tuesday.

She said her aim was to build a “brighter and fairer” Scotland in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

Here’s a look at five things to expect when the First Minister announces her programme for government.

Paving the way for a National Care Service

The Care Bill could be the biggest piece of legislation to go through the Scottish Parliament in 22 years.

It aims to reform the way the whole care-home system in Scotland is run, creating a National Care Service.

Ministers compare their plans to the NHS, but creating a national service will mean taking powers away from local councils.

Given the number of care-home deaths from Covid over the last 18 months, ministers are keen to press ahead with this legislation, but there will be fierce opposition within Holyrood and particularly from councils.

The Care Bill will lay out plans for a National Care Service.iStock
The Care Bill will lay out plans for a National Care Service.

Free wraparound childcare

Nicola Sturgeon has made clear her commitment to creating free wraparound childcare for low-income families.

This is aimed at helping people back into work with childcare throughout the day, beyond normal school hours.

Second independence referendum

The Programme for Government will pledge to press ahead with a legitimate and constitutional referendum within the first half of this parliamentary term.

The key words are ‘legitimate’ and ‘constitutional’ – not a wildcat, Catalonia-style question.

This has the backing of SNP and Green MSPs, and their cooperation agreement doesn’t make any difference to that. The problem is that the Prime Minister is resolute in his opposition and refusal to give the Scottish Parliament the powers to hold a legitimate and constitutional indyref2.

A second independence referendum will feature on the agenda.Getty Images
A second independence referendum will feature on the agenda.

Recycle and re-use

Talking of the cooperation agreement, watch out for legislation on the circular economy – that is putting more emphasis on recycling and reusing to cut waste.

The deal between the SNP and Greens has already set most of this out, but there are still details to come, for example on how the £300m for active travel will be spent.

There will be more emphasis on recycling and re-use in a bid to cut waste.iStock
There will be more emphasis on recycling and re-use in a bid to cut waste.

Gender Recognition Act

Perhaps the most controversial issue of this parliamentary term could be the reform of the Gender Recognition Act. This will split not just the parliament, but possibly parties.  

A draft bill plans to reduce the time it takes for transgender people to get a certificate recognising their gender.

There was a big protest outside parliament last week by women concerned about the government’s proposals. Expect much more of that.