Our Programme for Government is bold, ambitious and reinforces our commitment to building a society underpinned by ambition, dignity and respect. We have committed to the most ambitious long-term level of infrastructure spending ever seen in Scotland.
That means that by 2025-26, there will be an additional £7 billion invested into our schools, hospitals, transport, digital connectivity and clean energy over and above what we’re spending now.
In health, we recognise the need to improve provision for mental health, and for young people in particular. That is why we are investing £250 million to help recruit 430 new dedicated mental health counsellors in schools, universities and colleges, as well as providing extra training for teachers and dedicated support for young people and their families.
More generally, while patient satisfaction with the NHS is high, we recognise that some people are having to wait too long to be seen. That is why we will soon publish a waiting times improvement plan, to substantially and sustainably improve performance.
In welfare, we will be making the first payments by Scotland’s first social security agency.
Among those will be the Best Start Grant – which provides support for new parents on low incomes.
They will receive £600 for the first child and £300 for each subsequent new-born – with no two-child limit.
And the first Best Start payment will be made before Christmas, six months ahead of schedule. Everything we do of course is against the backdrop of Brexit, amid the UK government’s chaotic plans to drag Scotland out of the EU against our will – and out of a single market around eight times bigger than the UK market alone. But while we will do all we can to protect Scotland from the worst effects of being taken out of the EU, we have built a programme that it is not defined by Brexit. Instead, it sets out how we intend to deliver on our vision of a healthier, wealthier and fairer Scotland.