Marking One Year of the Bute House Agreement

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Progress on Building a Fairer, Greener

The Scottish Government continues to focus on delivering its net zero targets and supporting families with the cost of living, as it marks the first anniversary of the Bute House Agreement.

This was the agreement signed with the Scottish Green Party Parliamentary Group – a plan to work together to build a green economic recovery from COVID, respond to the climate emergency and create a fairer country.

In its first year, the Agreement has delivered a range of benefits for households, communities and businesses and has seen work begin on a number of longer-term reforms.

Particular progress has been made across a range of areas including:

  • Doubling the Scottish Child Payment to £20 per week per eligible child from April 2022, with plans to extend eligibility to under 16s and further increase the payment to £25 per week by the end of 2022.
  • Bringing ScotRail into public ownership.
  • Introducing free bus travel for under 22s in order to cut the cost of living for young people, encourage sustainable travel behaviours early in people’s lives and improve access to education, leisure and work.
  • Investing a record £150 million in active travel in 2022-23 – including more than doubling the funding for the National Cycle Network, introducing a new walking fund and supporting pilots for free bikes for school age children who cannot afford them.
  • Publishing Scotland’s National Strategy for Economic Transformation, setting out how Scotland will transition to a wellbeing economy.

The Agreement set out a strategy for over a million homes to be using zero-carbon heating systems by the end of the decade, and for allocating funds from a total planned investment of £1.8 billion to cut energy bills, improve building energy efficiency and reduce climate emissions.

Scotland’s Heat Network Fund offers long-term funding support to deliver more climate-friendly ways of heating Scotland’s homes and buildings. It has enabled the rollout of new zero-emission heat networks and communal heating systems, as well as the expansion and decarbonisation of existing heat networks across Scotland.

Marking the Bute House Agreement anniversary, the First Minister and Zero Carbon Buildings Minister Patrick Harvie announced £16.2 million funding for five such networks across the country. The Heat Network Fund is open to all public and private sector applicants, and proposals can be submitted at any time – an expression of interest form should be provided to HeatNetworkFund@gov.scot.

Moving forward, the Scottish Government is primarily focused on four key tasks: reducing child poverty; addressing the climate crisis; the recovery from COVID of Scotland’s public services, including the delivery of the National Strategy for Economic Transformation; and the development of the prospectus for an independent Scotland and an independence referendum in October 2023.

– Graeme 

The Scottish Government has achieved a great deal on many fronts in the year since the Bute House Agreement was signed – on child poverty, sustainable transport and more.

This grown-up, cooperative politics has helped us through an incredibly turbulent year – putting the people of Angus and Scotland first, as well as furthering real action on the climate emergency as we seek to accelerate our just transition to net-zero.

We are also now facing a cost-of-living emergency, and this government is absolutely committed to continuing and improving support for those struggling here in Angus and across the country.

The stability provided by this cooperation agreement is helping Scotland do all it can to address the major challenges of the moment, in the absence of a UK Government up to the job.

– First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

The world has changed substantially since the Agreement was reached 12 months ago. The conflict in Ukraine and the rising cost of living crisis have profoundly impacted everyone’s lives.

However, the stable and collaborative government provided by the Agreement, has helped to deliver immediate action in the face of these challenges, including supporting those displaced from Ukraine and using the powers that Ministers have to address the cost of living crisis.

Action is needed now to support communities to respond to the cost of living and climate crises, and Scotland’s Heat Network Fund is just one of the many initiatives that the Scottish Government has already undertaken. The projects that receive support from the Fund will fully align with the Scottish Government’s aim to eradicate fuel poverty by supplying heat at affordable prices to consumers, which is especially important now when we are seeing record rises in the cost of heating.

The Bute House Agreement was reached to equip us best to deal with the challenges we face, because we believe that new ideas and ways of working are required to deal with new problems. An unstable world needs more co-operation and more constructive working towards building a consensus, if governments are to be equal to what the people need of them.

– Zero Carbon Buildings Minister Patrick Harvie

One year on from the Scottish Greens entering government as part of the Bute House Agreement, I am proud of what this Government is doing to build a fairer, greener Scotland. From free bus transport for young people to doubling the Scottish Child Payment, we are committed to accelerating action to tackle the climate and cost of living crises.

The energy crisis households across Scotland now face is being driven by rocketing prices for gas, which we depend on for heat. We are clear that we need to redouble our efforts to improve the efficiency of our homes, making them more comfortable and cheaper to run, and end our reliance on gas for heat. That’s why we are investing £1.8 billion in our green homes and buildings programme.

Delivering a just transition to net-zero and seizing the opportunities this presents is a major focus of the Scottish Government, and rapidly increasing Scotland’s renewable energy generating capacity and securing accompanying jobs and investment will be central to our work over the rest of the parliament.

During the first year of the Agreement firm foundations have been built, demonstrating delivery and progress on shared policy priorities and adopting an approach that is both challenging and constructive.

The anniversary has also seen the latest round of the Scottish Government’s Nature Restoration Fund, established following the Agreement, open to longer-term projects aiming to transform Scotland’s natural environment.

Grants of over £250,000 are being made available to larger-scale initiatives that restore and protect habitats and species – including freshwater and coastal and marine areas – control invasive non-native species and reverse the loss of lowland biodiversity in urban areas.

£3.5 million was allocated to support 46 smaller-scale projects during this year to help support biodiversity in rural areas across the country – including burn restoration at Kinnordy near Kirriemuir – and a further £6.5 million has been allocated to councils and Scotland’s National Parks for local nature restoration projects. Over this Parliament, the Scottish Government will invest at least £65 million through the Nature Restoration Fund, with at least £13.5 million available in 2022-23.

– Biodiversity Minister, Lorna Slater

The Nature Restoration Fund is Scotland’s largest ever fund for nature and a vital opportunity to take positive action now and halt nature loss. It supports projects across Scotland – large and small – on land and at sea – that address the twin crises of biodiversity loss and climate change.

This summer we are also consulting on an ambitious new Biodiversity Strategy for Scotland. This sets out what our natural environment needs to look like by 2045 in order to reverse biodiversity decline and protect our environment for the future. I would encourage everyone to share their views and help us shape this crucial roadmap toward a better and more sustainable future for Scotland.

Background

Bute House Agreement – One Year On report

Scottish Government and Scottish Green Party – Shared Policy Programme – gov.scot (www.gov.scot)

More information on the Nature Restoration Fund and details on how to apply can be found on the NatureScot website: Nature Restoration Fund – How to Apply | NatureScot

The strategic priorities for the large project element of the Nature Restoration Fund follow those in the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy consultation.