John Swinney outlines his four priorities as First Minister

The SNP leader announced his Government's goals during a statement to the Scottish Parliament.

John Swinney has announced his four key priorities as Scotland’s First Minister.

The SNP leader vowed to work across the political divide as he outlined his goals for the Scottish Government during a statement to Holyrood.

His four priorities are: eradicating child poverty, growing the economy, tackling climate change and improving public services.

The First Minister told MSPs on Wednesday that ending child poverty would be the single most important goal of his premiership.

He stressed he did not want to “tackle” or “reduce” child poverty but to alleviate it altogether.

Tackling child poverty was listed as John Swinney's main priority as leader.iStock

“Because child poverty stunts the progress of any nation and stands in the way of both social justice and economic growth,” he said.

“My Cabinet will do everything in our power – including listening to and working with Members from across this chamber – to achieve our aim.”

The First Minister said growing Scotland's economy would be his second priority.iStock

Swinney said his second priority of growing the economy would go “hand-in-hand” with tackling child poverty.

He said: “From tourism, to finance and technology, to food and drink exports – we will work to create growth, create jobs and maximise the huge economic opportunities that lie ahead. Scotland’s creative industries are another vital contributor to the economic growth of the country.

“That’s why we are growing investment in culture and screen by £100m in the coming years.”

He also announced £16m in funding to expand access to childcare.

“This investment will support low-income families to enter and sustain employment, with funding targeted at those who are most at risk of living in poverty,” he said.

The SNP leader said the money would allow schemes to be expanded into new communities in Fife and Shetland.

The move to net zero was listed as the FM's third objective in government.iStock

Sharing his third goal of tackling the climate emergency, Swinney told Parliament the journey to net-zero carbon emissions must be done in a way that creates jobs.

“We will align the capacity generated by our vibrant entrepreneurial nation, with our world-leading academic and research institutions, our valuable natural resources and our businesses and communities in a shared agenda to deliver net zero,” he said.

“In a modern, prosperous Scotland, we must invest in tackling the climate emergency in a way that creates jobs and brings local businesses and communities with us on that journey.”

John Swinney said improving public services such as the NHS was his fourth priority as leader.iStock

The First Minister said his first three priorities would help deliver his fourth ambition of improving Scotland’s public services.

He said the Scottish Government will only be able to tackle these challenges “if we are able to win the support of others”.

Inviting opposition parties to work on a “shared agenda” for the country, the First Minister said the country was “operating in a very challenging financial and economic context”.

“My Government does not command a majority in this Parliament. We will only be able to tackle the challenges we face if we are able to win the support of others,” he said.

“On this first occasion when I set out the priorities of my Government, I set out my willingness to co-operate beyond the Government with other parties to deliver for our people.

“I want my country to do well. I know that others in this Chamber across all parties want Scotland to do well too. I offer to bring Parliament together on a shared agenda to make our country better.”

‘John Swinney is the ultimate continuity candidate’

Douglas Ross said Swinney’s statement confirmed that “he is the ultimate continuity candidate”.

The Scottish Conservative leader said: “Instead of accepting the issues facing Scots after 17 years of the SNP being in government he is defending the records of Alex Salmond, Nicola Sturgeon and Humza Yousaf.

“So let’s actually hear the truth about the SNP’s record.

“The highest taxes in the UK and an economy that is lagging behind the rest of the country.

“One in seven Scots on an NHS waiting list. A&E performance at record lows. A housing emergency. Drug deaths, the highest in Europe.

“Climate targets abandoned. Schools performing at record lows in international comparisons. Violent crime at its highest level in a decade.

“That is the truth of the SNP’s time in government.”

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