South of Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine has welcomed the First Minister’s Programme for Government – which will include reform of land laws, a Carers Bill, and a new £10 million Community Empowerment Fund.
The Scottish Government to date has invested £114m a year on support for unpaid carers, and will extend this support through a Carers Bill in the coming year – which will ensure carers are involved in the planning and delivery of services which affect them.
Ms McAlpine also welcomed news that a Land Reform Bill will be introduced before the end of the current parliament.
The Bill will remove tax breaks for shooting estates – helping the Scottish Government to support rural communities to buy land by increasing the Scottish Land Fund from £3m this year to £10m a year from 2016.
The programme will also include the establishment of a new Empowering Communities Fund. Encompassing the existing People & Communities Fund, it will have an additional £10m to allocate next year - more than doubling the existing resource - and be available directly to communities.
Ms McAlpine said:
“This is a programme aimed at creating a fairer Scotland and handing power back to communities.
“I am particularly pleased that a Carers Bill will be introduced in 2015.
“Advocating for unpaid carers is an issue close to my heart. As co-convenor of the Cross Party Group on carers at the Scottish parliament I am all too aware that Scotland has an unsung army of unpaid carers without whom our services could not function.
“The new £10 million Community Empowerment Fund is also very welcome – and I hope will be useful to our own communities in Mid and Upper Nithsdale.
“I am also very pleased to see a further expansion of Modern Apprenticeships and more money to tackle delayed discharge from hospital.”
The SNP MSP added:
“The Land Reform package announced by the First Minister yesterday is a particularly important step. Scotland currently has the most inequitable land ownership in the west and tackling this injustice will be key to creating a fairer society.”
Further details of the First Minister’s programme for Government, including her full speech can be found here: http://news.scotland.gov.uk/Speeches-Briefings/First-Minister-Programme-for-Government-12b1.aspx