Scottish Government announces family wellbeing fund for Covid recovery
The Scottish Government has announced the creation of a £500m “whole family wellbeing fund” as part of its Covid recovery strategy.
The cash, to be delivered between now and 2026, will support preventative interventions and universal support services, the deputy first minister said.
John Swinney told the chamber on Tuesday that Covid had highlighted the need to tackle inequality and that a successful recovery going forward would be based on “more than GDP”.
A “high level strategy” has been published by the government, setting out three aims: financial security for low-income households, enhanced wellbeing for children and young people, and creating good, green jobs.
Swinney said: “Over the last 18 months life has changed markedly. Over the next 18 months – the period covered by this strategy – we can build back on a fairer basis.
“To do this, we must move at pace, devoting the same energy, imagination and urgency to Covid recovery as we did to the pandemic to collectively achieve that change and drive a recovery that delivers for all of Scotland.”
He also confirmed a Covid recovery programme board would be established, jointly chaired by the Scottish Government and council umbrella body COSLA, to deliver the strategy.
COSLA president Alison Evison said: “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.”
Labour’s Daniel Johnson welcomed the focus on families but urged the Scottish Government to set out when it would double the Scottish Child Payment.
Swinney insisted this was of the “highest priority”, adding: “We have committed to doubling the child payment during the course of this parliamentary term and we want to do that as quickly as we possibly can do, when resources become available to do that.”
Tory MSP Murdo Fraser called for more help to support those who have become unemployed during the pandemic.
He said the cash from the chancellor’s £500m job support programme, announced at the Conservative conference on Monday, should be used to “help those looking to retrain to fill vacancies in the economy”.