A Green Programme for Government: Make Scotland Fairer, Create a Clean Economy

Patrick Harvie MSP, Co-convener of the Scottish Greens, today (3 Sep) laid down a challenge to the SNP Scottish Government and Holyrood's other parties by outlining an alternative Green Programme for Government ahead of this week's return to parliamentary business.

The six-strong group of Green MSPs, who earlier this year forced the minority Scottish Government to reverse planned cuts of £160million to local councils and a planned tax break for high earners, is urging the First Minister to prioritise legislation and investment to make Scotland fairer and create a clean economy.

At the top of the Greens’ priorities is bold use of income and local tax powers to tackle inequality, lift communities out of poverty and fund essential public services. They claim that the SNP’s unwillingness to date is an abdication of responsibility. They want Nicola Sturgeon to use new devolved powers to top up Child Benefit by £5 a week and support unpaid carers.

The Green group’s priorities also include a ban on fracking, a rethink of proposed cuts to aviation tax and for the forthcoming Climate Bill to include a target of net-zero emissions by 2040 rather than the government's proposal of a 90 per cent reduction by 2050. They say this will drive job creation in industries with a long term future, instead of leaving Scotland dependent on a dwindling fossil fuel industry, and would improve public health and housing.

Green MSPs John Finnie and Mark Ruskell are continuing to progress their member's bills on equal protection for children from assault, and a default 20mph speed limit to create safer streets. Both these proposals have been given strong support from organisations outside Parliament, and the Greens are calling on the Scottish Government to get behind their ideas.

Patrick Harvie MSP said:

"The SNP Government is looking for a reset. Greens are putting forward a host of ideas that could revitalise Holyrood and create a fairer, greener Scotland.

"Our approach of constructive challenge gets results, from ending benefit sanctions on devolved work programmes to rolling out support to boost vulnerable families' incomes. Our historic budget deal earlier in the year helped local councils shelve many of the service cuts they had been forced to consider.

"Ministers must be prepared to go further, and traditional SNP timidity must give way to a bolder, braver agenda. A Green Programme for Government would make the most of new devolved powers to tackle poverty and inequality and would prioritise a shift towards a clean economy that does not rely on oil and gas. With these ideas we will continue to push the SNP beyond their comfort zone, and challenge Holyrood's other parties to bring forward constructive proposals."

The Green Programme for Government - Making Scotland Fairer, Fighting for a Clean Economy - includes:

Making Scotland Fairer

Progressive income tax
Fight child poverty with a £5 a week top-up of Child Benefit and an NHS benefits service
Give children equal protection from assault
Provide classroom support for all pupils who need it
Make streets safer with 20mph limits 
Support carers with increased allowances and access to the wider services they need
Empower councils to build affordable homes
Action on animal welfare including CCTV in abattoirs, and a full ban on foxhunting, snares, electric shock collars and tail-docking 

A Clean Economy

A full, permanent ban on fracking and exploitation of other new fossil fuel sources
Start fighting for jobs in the low carbon transition; stop fighting for oil multinationals 
Drop plans for aviation tax cuts, investing in public transport instead
Legislate for net-zero carbon emissions by 2040
End fuel poverty by fixing leaky homes and developing local public energy companies

In the past year, the Green MSPs have helped make Scotland fairer by:

-Stopping sanctions on devolved work programmes
-Protecting council services with £160m of additional funding
-Stopping an SNP tax cut for the wealthiest in society

-Winning agreement to roll-out an NHS family benefits service, to help tackle child poverty
-Prompting fresh guidance for student teachers to support children with Additional Support Needs