The dust has now settled on the result of the referendum and we now have the conclusion of the Smith Commission. YouthLink Scotland, the national agency for youth work, does welcome the positive steps taken by the Smith Commission but we have a clear message for politicians going forward.
We were delighted to see a firm commitment to extending the franchise for 16- and 17-year-olds at Holyrood elections and a promise to fast tracking this. There has been some movement in terms of the devolution of welfare and we were heartened to see a move to transfer key benefits for some of society’s most vulnerable.
More control over employability programmes will we hope, provide the much needed shift for greater policy co-ordination and support for young people.
But like many others in the sector we are disappointed to see opportunities missed. We do recognise these might be sins of omission rather than commission due to the time element but that concern over the swiftness of the timetable remains.
The third sector in their submissions to Smith made it clear what additional levers were required for Holyrood to make that more achievable. It’s therefore regrettable the views of those working at the hard edge of social injustice were not wholeheartedly listened to.
The Smith Commission is a compromise and has yet to be formally endorsed at UK level and any attempt to water down its limited proposals is something a Scottish electorate would not stand for. The third sector has a continuing role in keeping the pressure on and holding the UK government to account in terms of progressing Smith.
A mechanism such as a “People’s Commission”, which is truly representative of the various strands in Scottish society and those who represent them, should be given serious consideration. Not as a one off exercise but rather as an agreed and permanent means of taking the nation’s temperature on the issues which confront us as citizens on a daily basis.
When it comes to Smith, we do really “need to talk”.
• Jim Sweeney is chief executive of YouthLink Scotland