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A Fairer Future - Recovery Strategy To Help Those Hardest Hit By Covid

6th October 2021

People who have suffered the most as a result of the pandemic will be at the heart of Scotland's Covid recovery strategy.

For a fairer future sets out the next steps in Scotland's recovery from the pandemic, recognising that while the pandemic has affected every area of life in Scotland, those who were already struggling have been hardest hit by its effects.

The strategy aims to address systemic inequalities made worse by Covid, improve people's wellbeing, and remobilise public services to be more focused on people's needs, building on lessons learned during the pandemic.

Actions to achieve this will include upskilling and retraining opportunities for workers impacted by the pandemic and the transition to net zero, help for low income families most at risk of poverty, and locally-based mental health and wellbeing support for children and young people.

While the strategy is focused over the next 18 months, it includes a series of actions over the course of this Parliament to deliver substantial improvements in child poverty, make significant progress towards net zero, and secure an economic recovery that is fair and green.

Deputy First Minister and Covid Recovery Secretary John Swinney said:"The impacts of this pandemic have not been felt evenly with the most disadvantaged suffering disproportionately from the virus, and the social and economic effects of lockdown restrictions.

"For that reason, our recovery must go further than how life was before Covid. This strategy sets out how we will do that, working with local government, the third sector, and businesses large and small.

"It is the product of months of engagement with a variety of individuals and organisations representing sectors across the country, including the Citizen's Assembly and the Social Renewal Advisory Board.

"The experience of the past 18 months has shown us what can be achieved when we look past traditional barriers to get the right service or support to people when they need it.

“By working together with the same energy, imagination, and urgency as we approached the pandemic, we can drive a recovery that delivers more for all of Scotland."

COSLA President Councillor Alison Evison said: “I welcome the publication of this strategy and its vision, which has many parallels with the COSLA Blueprint. Covid-19 has had an immeasurable impact on communities across Scotland and although we continue to respond to the many challenges it presents, we must also take the necessary action to address inequalities in our society that have only worsened as a result of the pandemic.

“Local Government will be at the heart of recovery, just as we were in response to the pandemic. Recovery is a shared endeavour that requires us all to work together to address the areas of greatest harm resulting from the pandemic, and deliver an inclusive and green recovery for all of Scotland. We look forward to working with the Scottish Government to deliver on a collaborative approach to recovery that is at all times rooted in the needs of the people that we serve."

Peter Kelly, Director of the Poverty Alliance, said:“The levels of poverty and inequality in Scotland made the impact of the pandemic so much worse than it might otherwise have been. Insecure and undervalued employment, social security benefits that were inadequate and ingrained inequality all meant that some communities bore the brunt of Covid.

“As we look towards the end of the pandemic, it is right that the Scottish Government prioritises a recovery that addresses these underlying inequalities. Focusing on the creation of a wellbeing economy, tackling poverty and investment in social security, housing and decent public services is to be welcomed. Delivering on these priorities and retaining this focus ​on addressing inequalities must drive our recovery to Covid."

Louise Macdonald OBE, National Director of the Institute of Directors Scotland said:“A strong, sustainable wellbeing economy and a fair, equal society are interdependent. We welcome the clarity in this strategy that a thriving economy underpins a successful recovery, especially in making the difference for those greatest affected by poverty and inequality. Leaders from business and cross-sector organisations in communities in every part of Scotland have played a vital part in the response to the pandemic in a myriad of ways and it is that spirit of collaboration, innovation and purpose - through collective effort and shared vision - which will deliver this ambitions of this strategy."

Andrew McRae, Policy Chair of the Federation of Small Businesses Scotland said:“Scotland’s recovery from the Covid crisis won’t be possible without economic recovery. Smaller businesses have an impressive track record of creating jobs and healing communities after economic shocks - so they must be at the heart of implementing this welcome recovery plan. We’re looking forward to working with the Scottish Government to ensure delivery of these plans is designed with small and new start businesses, as well as the self-employed, front and centre.”

Covid Recovery Strategy For a fairer future

Actions to deliver the strategy include:

investing £200 million in adult upskilling and retraining opportunities to help retrain and reskill workers in areas of the economy

particularly impacted by the pandemic and the transition to Net Zero
helping low income families most at risk of experiencing poverty with £8.65 million for the Parental Employability Support Fund in 2021-22, and at least a further £15 million across 2022-24

providing £15 million to local authorities in 2021-22 to deliver locally-based mental health and wellbeing support for children and young people aged 5 - 24.

rolling out the Scottish Child Payment to children under 16 by the end of 2022

providing free school lunches to every child in primary school and to all children in state-funded special schools by August 2022.

ensuring staff delivering direct adult social care are paid at least the real Living Wage, with additional funding of £64.5 million this year
assisting long-term unemployed people to gain fair work through the No One Left Behind approach with Local Government and the third sector with £20 million funding over the next 12 months

ensuring every one aged between 16 and 24 will have the opportunity this year to study, take up an apprenticeship, job or work experience, or formal volunteering, as part of the Young Person’s Guarantee, with funding of up to £70 million

developing a Student Mental Health Action Plan and delivering on the commitment for an additional 80 counsellors in universities and colleges in the next two years, backed by £4.2 million this year
establishing a Women’s Business Centre, backed by £50 million across this Parliament, to provide accessible, relevant advice and support to women‑led businesses.

helping businesses to create green employment and opportunities through investment in equipment, premises, and research and development via the Green Jobs Fund

designing and implementing a skills guarantee for workers in carbon-intense sectors and delivering this through the Green Jobs Workforce Academy, working with agencies and other stakeholders