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An outdoor play park, with a green slide, red monkey bars and yellow pillars.

News: Scotland's play spaces to undergo major changes, with new reforms and funding

Posted 28 March, 2023 by Nina Joynson

The Scottish Government has announced new planning reforms and funding to support children and young people’s outdoor play opportunities.

Local authorities will be encouraged to support applications to develop new play spaces, parks and sports facilities under the terms of a new policy.

The policy is included in the fourth iteration of the National Planning Framework, and gives young people more opportunities for play, recreation and sport through planned development and greenspaces.

The government is enacting the changes as a commitment to incorporate children and young people's rights into Scottish law and practice.

Alongside the new planning reforms, regulations will be introduced that require councils to assess current play spaces and consult with local children and communities on their adequacy, so local authorities are better informed when providing future play opportunities.

Tom Arthur, Minister for Public Finance, Planning and Community Wealth, said:

“Much clearer and stronger policy together with these new requirements will give more children and young people opportunities to spend time outdoors, supporting their wellbeing and fulfilling the Scottish Government’s commitment to incorporate children’s rights into law and practice.

“The Scottish Government is requiring planning authorities across the country to consider play provision when preparing their local development plans.

“By working together through planning policy and practice, we will make Scotland a better place to grow up.”

Funding play parks

The new policy comes as COSLA and the Scottish Government also announce a £50 million investment to refurbish and maintain Scotland's existing play parks.

The 2021 Programme for Government set out £60 million in funding for local authorities to renew public, free-to-access play parks.

£5 million was provided towards this commitment in 2021, and £5 million in 2022.

The additional £50 million will be allocated over the course of this Parliament, with £10 million in 2023/24, £15 million in 2024/25, and £25 million in 2025/26.

Play parks are eligible for the refurbishment funding if they are owned, managed or maintained by local authorities, are designated for play, and free and open to all.

Minister for Children and Young People Clare Haughey said:

“Playing outdoors has huge benefits for children’s physical and mental wellbeing, and play parks ensure children can access high quality safe environments free of charge as families grapple with the cost of living crisis.

“This funding will support local communities to take forward their plans to improve play parks for children in their area.”

Hands holding british pound coin and small money pouch

News: Scottish Child Payment to be increased as part of Programme for Government

Posted 06 September, 2022 by Jennifer Drummond

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is today expected to set out a raft of actions to help households through the cost of living crisis.

Currently, the Scottish Child Payment applies if you live in Scotland, are receiving certain benefits and payments and the child you are claiming for is under six years old.

Measures set to be announced include:

  • increasing the Scottish Child Payment to £25 per eligible child per week from 14 November
  • extending the anti-poverty benefit to children up to 16 years old.

Speaking ahead of her statement to Parliament on the 2022-23 Programme for Government, the First Minister said:

“The Scottish Child Payment is unique to Scotland, the most ambitious child poverty reduction measure in the UK and an important action to mitigate the growing cost of emergency. We doubled the payment to £20 per week per child in April and a further increase to £25 from November means a rise of £150 in less than eight months.”

The First Minister also suggested all those newly eligible will have payments backdated to the date their application is received.

Success of the Scottish Child Payment

Figures published last week identified a total of 104,000 children are in receipt of the payment, with families in Scotland benefiting from a total of £84 million since the payment was first introduced in February 2021.

It is expected more than 400,000 children will be eligible when the payment is extended to those up to 16 years old.

The actions will be announced as part of the Programme for Government, which is due to be presented to Parliament at 2pm today (Tuesday 6 September).

Our reaction to the Programme for Government: family wellbeing fund welcomed but disappointment at lack of progress on child payment level

8 September 2021

Children in Scotland has responded to yesterday’s publication of the Programme for Government.

Commenting on key policy areas that directly affect the lives of children and young people such as children’s rights, tackling poverty, the environment, and mental health and equalities, our Head of Policy, Projects and Participation, Amy Woodhouse, said:

Upholding children’s rights

“As highlighted in the Programme for Government 2021-22, the timeline for commencement of the UNCRC (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill is currently uncertain as we await the judgment of the UK Supreme Court.

“However, we welcome the Scottish Government’s ongoing commitment to incorporation and the announcement of £4 million investment between now and March 2024 to support public services to uphold children’s rights is a positive step in this direction.

“Nevertheless, we believe that the financial commitment to incorporation needs to be much higher if we are to achieve our aspirations for upholding children’s rights across Scotland.

Family support

“Our members have highlighted to us that secure and stable funding is a recurring issue across the children’s sector [1] and its scarceness affects its ability to achieve positive outcomes for children and families.

“We therefore warmly welcome the £500 million investment in a Whole Family Wellbeing Fund, introduced as part of the Scottish Government’s commitment to Keep The Promise. This will bring some much needed and widely called-for investment in early, holistic support for families.


“As members of the End Child Poverty Coalition, we have campaigned for solutions that would make a much-needed difference in tackling child poverty, and have strongly advocated for a doubling of the Scottish Child Payment as the most effective method to address the concerning increase in child poverty rates.

“We of course welcome the extension of the payment to cover children up to age 16 by the end of 2022, however we would urge the Scottish Government to act on its commitment to double the payment as quickly as possible.

“We were disappointed that this commitment was not made in this year’s Programme for Government and we strongly urge the Scottish Government to prioritise this in its upcoming budget setting.

The environment

“The environment is one of the most pressing issues facing us today and the global consequences if effective and rapid action to address climate change is not taken will be catastrophic.

“We are encouraged by the focus given to the environment in the government’s plans, involving active travel, decarbonising homes, ensuring a Just Transition and the protection of our natural environment, but cannot understate the urgency with which real and large-scale change is required.

“We welcome the commitment of the Scottish Government to become a ‘net zero nation’ and the steps outlined to achieve this. It is difficult to assess the scale of the proposed action at this stage and we ask for a clearer pathway on how the government will achieve net zero and specific targets and timescales to be laid out in the government’s next Climate Change Plan.

“We welcome the commitments to provide free bus travel to young people under the age of 22 and the explicit acknowledgement that the poorest and most vulnerable in the world have done the least to contribute to climate change (but will be the first affected) and we look forward to reading the details of the increase to the Climate Justice Fund.

“We note that there is no mention of air quality in the government’s plans, which is an unfortunate omission. We believe that air quality must be improved in the areas where children live, learn and play will continue to call for a school air quality monitoring scheme to be introduced as a first step to ensuring this.

“We know from our work how important this issue is to children and young people. Radical and sustained action must be taken to ensure that they do not pay the price for the inaction of previous generations.


“We are encouraged to see more focus on the mental health of children and young people, which has been lacking in previous plans put forward by the government. We welcome the commitment to dedicate at least 10% of frontline NHS spending to mental health, but question whether this will be sufficient to address the level of unmet need that currently exists.

“The proposal to create a National Care Service could have a significant impact on the lives of children and families, and it is vital that this is well thought through and based on what children and families need.

“We are keen to amplify the views and experiences of our members in our response to the Scottish Government’s consultation on the National Care Service and we would welcome members to attend our Voices Forum event in October on this issue.


“We welcome the promise to implement the recommendations of the OECD review on curriculum and assessment, but do not underestimate the scale of this task, nor the necessity for real improvements to be made across the education system.

“Children and young people’s education over the last 18 months has been badly fractured by the pandemic, and they have repeatedly told us how infrequently their voices and needs were considered in decision-making about their education and learning.

“This has to improve, not least for those with additional support needs, whose rights to additional support have been badly affectedly by lockdowns, home learning, and other restrictions.

“We therefore strongly support the Scottish Government in its commitment to fully implementing the findings of the Additional Support for Learning Review. Achieving the report’s recommendations for all children and young people who need additional support for their learning would be a significant and hugely positive step.


“In the statement made by the First Minister, it was acknowledged that trans people are one of the most stigmatised minorities in our society and the commitment was made to ensure that the process of obtaining a gender recognition certificate is ‘less degrading, intrusive and traumatic’.

“We welcome the intention to bring forward the Gender Recognition Bill with the hopes that it will bring about a rights-based approach to this process.

“We welcome the Scottish Government’s commitment to work together with the UK Government to develop policies and practices to benefit those seeking refuge and asylum. These are more necessary than ever.

“We note the expansion of the New Scots Refugee Integration Strategy and the promise to provide an additional £500,000 to support local authorities to accommodate more unaccompanied asylum-seeking children arriving in Scotland.

“We will be monitoring the progress of this commitment and would urge the government to ensure that the needs of all people seeking asylum, such as adequate housing, mental health support, physical health and the vital opportunities to connect with others, are met.


“Children in Scotland welcomes the commitment to school-age childcare. From our projects and services, we know that children, young people, their families, and services need childcare that is adequately supported to meet children and family needs. The barriers to access are well researched and documented; it’s time for change.

“Children in Scotland has been administering the Scottish Government’s Access to Childcare Fund since its launch in 2020. The Access to Childcare Fund has been developing the evidence base of the types of school-age childcare services that can have the biggest impact on families most likely to be experiencing poverty.

“Support for the 15 funded services (which include the Indigo Childcare Group, the site of a visit by the First Minister this week) shows:

  • The funding has allowed projects to offer more places for more children, and support for their families who would previously not have been able to access childcare.
  • Impact for families has included being able to move into employment, training or studying.
  • Therapeutic work is taking place in collaboration with partners and places whole family support at the core of services working with children and families.
  • Projects are looking at different and innovative ways of using outdoor spaces to run their services.

“The impact of the pandemic and restrictions on the childcare sector has been very significant. Over the summer demand for services has begun to return with families reporting the significance of the provision for their children, and for them.

“The funded services are testing the need to be sustainable for families whose children attend, and the service itself. This includes considering these key questions:

  1. Does subsidised school aged childcare support families to gain, sustain or progress in employment or learning?
  2. Does targeted Family Support empower families to improve their quality of life and lead to improved outcomes?
  3. Do working families require weekend/ holiday childcare?
  4. Can a referral scheme, subsidised childcare options and a family support function, support the longer-term sustainability of out of school care provision for older children and young people?
  5. Does flexibility of hours increase uptake?”


[1] Click here to read our members' response to funding in the children's sector

2021-22 Programme for Government

The government's legislative plans were announced at Holyrood on Tuesday 7 September

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Children in Scotland 2021-26 Manifesto

Our Manifesto calls are supported by partners across the sector

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Young people's advisory group

Changing our World helps shape our policy positions and influencing work

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Solutions for childcare challenges

We manage this fund, aimed at reducing the barriers parents and carers experience in accessing childcare

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"Invest in whole family support"

For our 25 Calls campaign, Clare Simpson said the government must invest in relationship-based support

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Our view on the Programme for Government:  Positive pledges on youth jobs and climate, more ambition needed on family support and fighting poverty

3 September 2020

Children in Scotland has responded to Tuesday’s publication of the Programme for Government.

Commenting on key policy areas including UNCRC incorporation, ELC expansion and health inequalities, our Head of Policy, Projects and Participation, Amy Woodhouse, said:

UNCRC incorporation: a milestone in improving outcomes for children

“We are delighted that the long-standing commitment to incorporate the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child has been met with a clear plan to bring forward the Bill in this parliament. We await the Bill being published and look forward to working with partners across the sector, Scottish Government, and MSPs to support its passage into law.

We know that incorporation will contribute to culture change in Scotland and enhance the support that we provide to children, young people, and families. The continued commitment to incorporation is a clear sign of the focus on improving outcomes for children and young people.

Financial support for families: the gap still to be bridged

“As a member of the End Child Poverty Coalition we have been supportive of the introduction of the Scottish Child Payment by February 2021 for eligible families with children under the age of six. We are pleased to see that applications for the fund will open in November. However, we hope to see activity by the Scottish Government to ensure uptake of the payment is maximised.

“We are also disappointed that there is no financial payment to bridge the gap between now and February. We know that families need support now, and view this as a failure to respond to rising rates of poverty. As members of the End Child Poverty Coalition we will continue to work with partners to ensure that families have the financial support they need.

Education: commitment must be matched by ambition and implementation

“It is positive to see investment in teachers and support staff, particularly as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, an additional 200 support staff does not appear to be an ambitious enough response to the scale of the problem. We know that schools were already struggling to meet the needs of all children and young people prior to the pandemic, and this situation will only have become more complex.

“We are pleased to see the commitment to implementation of the recommendations contained within Angela Morgan’s recent review of the Implementation of Additional Support for Learning. However, a specific timeline for implementation must be introduced and a financial commitment made, otherwise the detrimental impact on children and young people’s wellbeing will continue. We know these changes will be needed now more than ever given the impact of COVID-19.”

ELC expansion: don’t let delay risk overriding aim of reducing inequalities

“The Programme for Government also contains a commitment to update on the expansion of Early Learning and Childcare. An assessment of the readiness for expansion will be provided by December. Children in Scotland is concerned by these delays as evidence prior to COVID-19 suggested that the expansion was already behind schedule. The expansion could make a potentially transformative contribution to reducing inequalities for children and families and do not wish to see the benefits delayed.

“Through our campaigning and influencing work we will push for the expansion to be rolled out as soon as possible to provide support to children and families, emphasising at all the times the importance of quality and inclusive practice. We also will look forward to seeing the framework for expanding childcare to school-age children across the next parliamentary term.

“While it was also promising to see a range of commitments to family support within the Programme for Government, much of this was money that had already been committed.”

Youth Guarantee: a welcome step if high quality jobs are guaranteed too

“We are encouraged to see the Scottish Government’s commitment to a Youth Guarantee, which will ensure all 16-24-year olds will have access to a job, training, or education.

“However, we are waiting to see further detail to clarify that the scheme will not include zero hour contracts or jobs which mean young people are left under-employed. It is essential that the youth guarantee supports high quality jobs.

“We are also pleased to see support for parental employment including those at risk such as low-income parents. However, we would query whether £2.35million is enough to support the ambitions of such a scheme.”

The Promise: support for recommendations, support for resourcing

“It was encouraging to see the continued commitment to implementing the recommendations with The Promise. Children in Scotland is happy to be supporting The Promise team with this work but would have liked to have seen firmer commitments on timescales and financial resource for the implementation.

Mental health and wellbeing: early prevention a priority missed 

“Children in Scotland would have liked to have seen more ambition in supporting better mental health and wellbeing for children and young people. Several positive new actions were laid out with in the Programme for Government, including:

  • A renewed focus on community health and wellbeing services
  • Work with women and girls’ organisations to explore the individual and structural issues that contribute to poor mental health for this group.

“However, we would have liked to have seen a far greater focus on a move towards early intervention and prevention and tackling the structural determinants of poorer mental health.

“We also would query the necessity of a further CAMHS recovery plan in response to COVID-19 given the breadth of work over the recent years that has shown the changes needed to mental health provision in Scotland.”

Health and wellbeing: positive moves on tackling inequalities 

“We were pleased to see a focus on tackling health inequalities within the programme for government and particularly pleased to see action on reducing harm from alcohol and cigarettes, the effects of emissions and to reduce drug deaths. Action to improve active travel and improve diets is also welcome.

“However, we are concerned that this activity is still heavily focussed on individual behaviour change and does recognise the impact of poverty and inequality on health and wellbeing.”

Digital: access and inclusion emphasis welcome

“The broad focus on digital access and inclusion within the Programme for Government is very welcome. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need to support everyone to have access to digital technology.

“We are pleased to see commitments to roll out super-fast broadband across the country and the proposals to expand the Connecting Scotland Fund. We are aware of the benefit this fund has had so far and are pleased to see an extra £23million to support a further 50,000 people experiencing digital exclusion.

“However, we also need to see continued complementary action to reduce the grip of poverty to ensure that all families can access the resources they require.”

Environment: progress on emissions targets

“Children in Scotland is extremely pleased to see the commitment within the Programme for Government to tackle climate change, and welcomes the pledge that Scotland will become a net zero emitter by 2045. We would like to see this supported by a commitment to a 75% reduction by 2030.

“We are particularly pleased to see a focus on tackling high emissions/carbon industries. It is essential that industry take responsibility for tackling climate change as a key emitter of CO2 and other harmful greenhouse gases.

“Measures announced to make homes more energy efficient are also very encouraging. Not only will this reduce emissions it should help tackle fuel poverty.

“We await further detail from experts in this sector on whether these plans are ambitious enough.”

Communities: 20-minute scheme a plus if holistic needs are part of the plan

“We are pleased to see the commitment to improving the neighbourhoods in which children and young people grow up. We are interested to see more information about the proposed 20-minute neighbourhood scheme which aims to ensure everyone can meet all their essential needs within 20 minutes of their house.

“However, our recent Health Inequalities work showed that there is much work to be done to create communities that are safe and positive places for children and young people to grow up. Scottish Government must learn from these findings. We would also advocate for consideration of the UNICEF Child Friendly Cities Model in conjunction with the 20-minute neighbourhood scheme so that children’s holistic needs are fully considered, including the right to play.”

Gender Recognition Act: lack of legislation a blow for trans young people

“We are disappointed that there appears to be little mention of bringing forward legislation to reform the Gender Recognition Act. Children in Scotland knows the benefit that reforms to how trans young people access a Gender Recognition Certificate would have. We will continue to work with partners across the sector to ensure support is available for trans young people.”

2020-21 Programme for Government

The First Minister announced the 2020-21 Programme for Government on 1 September

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"We call for full incorporation"

In our 2019 consultation response we said the UNCRC must be part of Scots law

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"Another generation can't go through this"

In May we commented on new child poverty stats, drawing on learning from our projects

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"Don't lose focus on inequality challenge"

We recently commented on the delay in early learning and childcare expansion

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"A big moment for Scotland's future"

In February we welcomed the Care Review's calls and pledged to #KeepThePromise

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"A unique report led by young people"

In February we launched our Health Inequalities research

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Our project work

Young people's rights and participation is central to our project work

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