The Scottish Government has been accused of “breaking” a litany of promises laid out in last year’s programme for the country including assurances on funding for police and free school meals for children.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is to set out her latest Programme for Government (PfG) on Tuesday but the Scottish Conservatives have accused the SNP and Greens of failing to deliver a slew of policies outlined in the 2021/22 version.
The party claims medication assisted treatment (MAT) standards designed to address drug deaths will be introduced “late and watered down”, a fair work action plan has yet to be published and no Pension Age Winter Heating Assistance has yet been established among other flagship policy concerns.
Scottish Tory chairman Craig Hoy branded it a “shocking catalogue of failure,” however the Government said priorities had shifted to tackling the mounting cost of living crisis ahead of the next PfG announcement.
The document is published annually at the beginning of September and sets out the actions the Scottish Government plans to take in the forthcoming parliamentary year, including bills that will go before MSPs at Holyrood.
Last year’s announcement was the first put forward since a co-working deal was signed with the Scottish Greens and included initial plans for a new referendum on independence from the UK by the end of 2023.
However, Hoy accused the FM of failing to deliver on 26 commitments set out in the plan, arguing focus had been taken away by the announcement of the vote in October next year and subsequent legal wrangling.
He said: “The U-turn on the nationalist coalition’s pledge to protect police funding has had very serious implications at a time when violent crime is rising.
“Equally, the failure to deliver their much-vaunted pledge to provide free school meals for all primary pupils is very significant at a time when household budgets are under extreme pressure from the global cost of living crisis.
“The huge surge in drug-related deaths since she became First Minister ought to shame Nicola Sturgeon. Yet her government is lamentably dragging its heels on its pledge to fully embed MAT standards across Scotland.”
Hoy added: “The Scottish people want and deserve a government that focuses on their priorities. Instead, Scotland has to suffer an SNP administration which is obsessed with its own self-serving goal of breaking up the UK.”
The Tories criticised the delay to a new women’s-only prison in Stirling, which is now scheduled to be completed by the summer of 2023, and the lack of new health and wellbeing strategy for prisoners among their criticisms.
Promises to introduce a minimum national allowance for foster and kinship care, lack of progress on a review of regional policy and the delay in the publication of a strategy to tackle the ethnicity pay gap were also cited as “failures”.
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Many of the PfG 2021-22 commitments have been met already, including the publication of the national strategy for economic transformation and doubling the Scottish child payment.
“Households and businesses across the country are facing a serious cost crisis, exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the UK Government’s approach to Brexit.
“As we look to the next PfG, outlining ambitions for 2022/23, the Scottish Government’s priorities continue to be responding to the cost crisis, building a fairer, greener country and securing a prosperous recovery from the pandemic.”