Programme for Government 2020-21

The Programme for Government 2020-21 focuses on COVID-19 recovery and includes a range of commitments relevant to children and young people’s human rights.

The commitments include that Scottish Government will:

  • Introduce the UNCRC Incorporation (Scotland) Bill: the First Minister announced that the Bill would be “shortly introduced” and will fully and directly incorporate the UNCRC, to the maximum extent of the Scottish Parliament’s powers, within the current parliamentary term. It will place a statutory duty on Scottish Ministers and public authorities not to act incompatibly with the UNCRC and give powers of redress to children, young people and their representatives. 
  • Roll out a new Child Winter Heating Assistance programme
  • Keep “the Promise” with care experienced children and young people.
  • Establish community health and wellbeing services that will support children, young people and their families
  • Promote equality and tackle the attainment gap: including improving digital connectivity through the provision of 25’000 chrome books, £135million additional investment including funding to recruit 1400 additional teachers and 2000 support staff to help close the poverty related attainment gap.
  • Conduct a review of exams and qualifications: to learn lessons from this year’s SQA moderation and results.

The Programme also addresses previously made commitments which were delayed due to COVID-19. These include:

  • Scottish Child Payment: applications will open in November 2020, with payments beginning from the end of February 2021. 
  • Early learning and childcare expansion: all three and four year olds and eligible two-year-olds will be able to access 1’140 hours of childcare by the end of 2020 (the previous target was by August 2020).

Programme for Government 2019-20

The 2019-20 Programme for Government sets out a range of commitments relevant to children and young people’s rights under the UNCRC. 

The commitments include:

  • UNCRC incorporation: delivering the legislation needed for the UNCRC incorporation by the end of this Parliamentary term in 2021.
  • Reducing child poverty: bringing forward the Scottish Child Payment, with the first payments expected to be made by Christmas 2020.
  • Children and young people with ASN: investing £15million for additional frontline staff to support children and young people with additional support needs for learning.
  • Care-experienced children and young people: bringing forward a new statutory provision in the Children’s Bill to keep siblings together if they are brought into care.
  • Mental health and wellbeing: developing 24/7 crisis support for children and young people and their families; putting into place a new community wellbeing service enabling self-referral for children and young people; 350 additional school counsellors in place.
  • School meals: increase the amount of fruit and vegetables served; reduce the amount of sugar available throughout the school day; encourage the use of fresh, local and sustainable produce; introduce a Good Food Nation Bill before the Scottish Parliament.

Read the full Programme for Government 2019-20.

Read Together’s response to the consultation on UNCRC incorporation.  


Programme for Government 2018-19

Scottish Government's 2018-19 Programme for Government includes a commitment to incorporate the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into domestic law. 

Launching the Programme on 4th September 2018, the First Minister said:

"In the Year of Young People, we have the opportunity to underline our commitment to future generations. We have the chance to fundamentally change the way in which we deal with the rights of young people. That is why this Programme for Government commits us to incorporating the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into domestic law. We will need to work with partners across public services and wider civic society to ensure that we do so in a way that promotes those rights most effectively, but now is the time to commit to that work."

Together’s 2016 State of Children's Rights report explored why Scotland needs to fully incorporate children's human rights into domestic law. Incorporation means "the provisions of the UNCRC can be directly invoked before the courts and applied by national authorities and [...] will prevail where there is a conflict with domestic legislation or common practice."


Programme for Government 2017-18

Scottish Government's 2017-18 Programme for Government made several commitments in progressing children's rights during 2018, the Year of Young People. These include:

  • Raising the minimum age of criminal responsiblity in Scotland from 8 to 12;
  • Supporting John Finnie's Bill to ensure equal protection from violence for children and removing the legal defense of 'justifiable assault';
  • Undertaking an audit on the most effective way to further embed the principles of the UNCRC into policy and legislation, including the option of full incorporation;
  • Begin a three-year programme to raise awareness and understanding of children's rights, including among children and young people themselves.