Nicola Sturgeon warns her flagship care 'Promise' is at risk of being broken

Former first minister Nicola Sturgeon said there was an ‘implementation gap’

Nicola Sturgeon has warned her flagship policy to help care-experienced children and young people is at risk of being broken unless action is taken.

The former first minister said there was an “implementation gap”, but stressed Scotland had “the opportunity over a few years to really close that”.

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Ms Sturgeon instituted “The Promise” during her time in office, which seeks to deliver “transformational change” in the care system by 2030.

Nicola SturgeonNicola Sturgeon
Nicola Sturgeon

It was a response to the Independent Care Review in 2020, which found many young people experienced a "fractured, bureaucratic and unfeeling" system.

In an interview with Baroness Casey for her BBC Radio 4 programme, Fixing Britain, Ms Sturgeon said: “Knowing the way government works as deeply as I do, as you do, there was a certain inevitability that it would perhaps be more difficult, take longer than we ever wanted it to do.

"Vested interests are very, very vested, so there will be a sort of push back and a backlash and a sense of inertia, and sometimes inertia makes it sound more passive than it actually is. All of that is in play here.

“I think on this, though, what we've also got is an incredible sense of people wanting to do it better. So I think we, right now, are at a point where there is an implementation gap, but we have the opportunity over a few years to really close that.

Nicola Sturgeon resigned as First Minister and SNP leader last March and was succeeded by Humza YousafNicola Sturgeon resigned as First Minister and SNP leader last March and was succeeded by Humza Yousaf
Nicola Sturgeon resigned as First Minister and SNP leader last March and was succeeded by Humza Yousaf

"If we don't, then that promise, and I'm using that term in all senses, that I made effectively on behalf of the country to care-experienced young people will have been broken – and for me that is unthinkable."

It is not the first time Ms Sturgeon has raised concerns about progress on the policy. Last year, a leaked document seen by the Daily Record newspaper showed just half of councils had set out indicators to track their progress in meeting The Promise.

Ms Sturgeon told the newspaper: “Delivering on The Promise requires Government at all levels to step up, challenge failed ways of working and prioritise the responsibility they have to care for, love and nurture our most vulnerable young people.

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“Put simply, this paper shows progress is not happening quickly enough and I hope it acts as a wake-up call and pushes many of our councils to significantly up their efforts. The changes we are seeking for our care system cannot come quickly enough for those in care or at risk.”

Ms Sturgeon announced her resignation in February last year, sparking an SNP leadership contest that was won by Humza Yousaf.

The former first minister repeatedly emphasised her commitment to help care-experienced people in her time in Bute House and said she would continue to advocate on their behalf from the backbenches.

In September, during a speech setting out his Programme for Government, Mr Yousaf said he would "personally convene a dedicated Cabinet sub-committee” for The Promise. "We will not let those with care experience down,” he added.



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