As the 2021 Scottish Election approaches we have picked out key pledges from the 5 main parties manifestos which will have direct impact on the lives of young people with care experience and the workforce who support them. You can view the full manifestos for each party by clicking on the party name below.

We are buoyed to see that 3 of the 5 manifestos the notion of a Universal Basic Income has been highlighted, something we at Staf have been championing for some time with Aberlour and RSA Scotland to ensure everyone is lifted out of poverty, especially young care leavers who we know are at risk of experiencing financial difficulties. 

We were also delighted to see most parties explicitly agreeing to implement the findings of The Promise, eradicating homelessness, investing in mental health services and doubling the Scottish Child Payment.
However there was more variation in response to youth justice with some calling for reductions in custodial sentences and others pledging to increase time spend in secure institutions. And although we were pleased to see issues of digital poverty being recognised we need to ensure 16 – 26 year olds are considered when access to internet and devices are being discussed.
Policy pledges to enable access to employment and further/higher education were also pleasingly prevalent but we need to guarantee that our most vulnerable young people are given support to ensure such initiatives are accessible and able to be maintained.

The future of Scotland and its young people will be decided on the 5th May. Make sure you play your part. 

Key policy pledges 


  • Begin work to deliver a Minimum Income Guarantee.
  • Fully implement Independent Care Review by 2030.
  • Undertake review of the Children’s Hearing System.
  • Double Scottish Child Payment to £20 per week, include all under 16s by 2022 and £520 cash grant for those in receipt of school meals until rollout completed.
  • £1bn investment to reduce education attainment gap.
  • Provide every child a device to get online including free internet.
  • School leavers Toolkit including advice on finance, budgeting and civil rights.
  • Care Leaver Grant – annual grant of £200 every year for 16 – 26 year olds.
  • Continue Young Person’s Guarantee to ensure that 16 - 24 year olds can to go to university or college, get a place on an apprenticeship, training or work experience programme, secure a job or participate in a formal volunteering programme.
  • Implement UNCRC within 6 months of the new parliament.
  • £50m investment to end homelessness and rough sleeping, utilise Housing First and introduce legislation which strengthens housing rights and give Local Authorities a duty to prevent homelessness.
  • Expand secure care so that under 18s are not unnecessarily held in Polmont Young Offenders Institution.
  • Implement a new Youth Justice Strategy for Scotland.
  • Improving mental health services – 10% of NHS budget focused on mental health.
  • Ensure at least 1% of frontline NHS spending is directed to child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) support and services by the end of the parliament.
  • £250m investment to tackle drug death emergency.
  • Extend free bus travel to under 22s.
  • Remove council tax for under 22s.

Scottish Labour 

  • Deliver Independent Care Review
  • Unemployed under 25 year olds, the long-term unemployed and every disabled person without a job, who are not already benefiting from other job schemes, will be guaranteed a job within the Scottish public sector with a wage paid for an average of six months by the Scottish Government.
  • Introduce a Scottish Work Experience Guarantee for school age and further education students
  • Funding to kick-start ‘Kickstart’ by providing a further six months of subsidy for wages, in exchange employers would need to guarantee a permanent job at the end of the scheme.
  • 5,000 new apprenticeships in the next financial year, with subsidised wages to raise pay for all and working with local authorities to establish local ‘Share an Apprentice’ schemes.
  • Offer an Equal Access Careers programme to support individuals disadvantaged in the labour market with specific career support, training and placements.
  • Extend the Job Start Grant to all young disabled people and double the grant offered to young disabled people and carer leavers to £500.
  • Establish dedicated mental health A&Es in every health board area, integrated with suicide prevention and substance misuse services, to support people in crisis.
  • Increase resources available for mental health and increase the mental health budget to 11% of the NHS budget.
  • Every young person to get a Personal Comeback Plan (PCP), based on an individual assessment.
  • Provide a personal tutoring programme for young people struggling to engage with school.
  • Establishment of an exam resit guarantee with a free place at college to take National Qualifications.
  • Engage with colleges and universities to ensure that there is a no detriment policy for accessing further or higher education.
  • Enhanced digital training for staff and a digital device for every pupil. Consider targeted support for households which may not have broadband access
  • Summer Comeback Pass for every young person to provide free access to sport, transport, outdoor activities and culture.
  • Increase the Scottish Child Payment to £20 a week by the end of 2022
  • Build 200,000 zero carbon social homes over ten years, with parity of grant funding between councils, cooperatives and housing associations.
  • Reinvest in social work capacity, reduce caseloads, and support staf, strengthen workforce planning with a focus on hard-to-fill vacancies.
  • National adoption strategy, ensuring equality of access to adoption services across Scotland. Foster care allowances to be reviewed and introduce of a national minimum allowance for foster and kinship care, alongside further consideration of foster carers’ employment status.
  • Introduce a care endowment to address the inequality of inheritance for care experienced children and strengthen support for kinship carers.
  • Reduce the number of children who experience multiple adverse childhood experiences within Scotland by at least 70% by 2030

Scottish Liberal Democrats 

  • Implement The Promise from Scotland’s Independent Care Review
  • Job Guarantee/Internship for 16 – 24 year olds – including more apprenticeships and help create a career passport for those with no formal certifications or sporadic work patterns.
  • Work with UK Government to develop system of Universal Basic Income
  • Ensure every child has access to connected technology
  • Give more young people the confidence and skills to achieve highly in their lives with a more securely funded youth work service to allow it to reach young people who are not engaged successfully in formal education
  • Double the Scottish Child Payment
  • Continue to call on the UK Government to make permanent the £20 uplift in Universal Credit introduced during the pandemic to address child poverty
  • Encourage Scottish universities to widen access and help more young people from poorer backgrounds through to completion of their courses, and to undertake outreach work in schools in disadvantaged areas
  • 15 per cent of new health spending to be directed to mental health
  • Abolish ‘rejected referrals’ by integrating Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services into a new wider system of multi-disciplinary support
  • Reduce drug abuse with compassion and health treatment rather than prosecution.
  • Taking forward the Housing First and Rapid Rehousing principles
  • Address challenges for young homeless people with special pathways to link suitable jobs and training to housing.

Scottish Conservatives 

  • Implement the recommendations of the Independent Care Review must be implemented in full and on time.
  • Increase Apprenticeship opportunities.
  • Connect every home and business property in Scotland to full fibre broadband by 2027.
  • Communities Bill to introduce fair funding for our councils.
  • Community Investment Deals, worth up to £25 million each, to create good local jobs.
  • 60,000 new affordable homes, with two thirds of these being new social housing.
  • £1 billion of attainment funding directly to all schools over the course of the next Parliament, based on the level of deprivation amongst their pupils.
  • Replace the current school leaving age of 16 with a new skills participation age of 18.
  • Revoke the presumption against short prison sentences and strengthen community sentences and end automatic early release.
  • Develop a national student mental health action plan.
  • Implement the recommendations of the Independent Care Review must be implemented in full and on time
  • Roll out the Mockingbird Programme for foster families and implement a register of foster carers to further professionalise the sector.
  • A review into the barriers to adopting and all support available to looked after children should remain in place for those who are adopted
  • Maintain the Care Experienced Bursary for students and pilot similar support for estranged students
  • Increase mental health funding to 10 per cent of the frontline health budget
  • Incorporating formal education into community sentences for young offenders and making returning to education a licence condition for any young offenders who are released early from a custodial sentence.
  • Complete the rollout of the Scottish Child Payment and increase payments to £20 per week by the end of the Parliament.
  • Eradicate rough sleeping in Scotland by 2026, invest £10.8 million over the next Parliament to deliver a national Housing First Programme.

Scottish Greens

  • Commit to keep The Promise
  • Double the Scottish Child Payment to at least £20
  • Work the UK Government to secure the powers to introduce a Universal Basic Income pilot or fund smaller-scale, more limited pilots. Ahead of the introduction of a UBI, examine the feasibility of a Scottish Minimum Income, which would establish a minimum income standard and use social security top-up powers to increase the incomes of anyone living below this. 
  • Expand the Young Person’s Guarantee to all under 30 
  • Fairer income taxes so most pay less while those who can pay more
  • Scrap council tax and replace it with a new residential property tax related to actual value.
  • Free bus travel for everyone aged 21 and under across Scotland, starting this summer and then extend to all under 26 and free ferry travel for children and young people
  • Everyone to have access to affordable, safe, comfortable and energy efficient housing.
  • End homelessness within the next ten years by updating the legislative framework and rolling-out the Housing First approach. Homeless offered permanent tenancies and tailored wrap-around support services
  • Build 84,000 homes for social rent by 2032 and buy land at its existing use value
  • Ensure counselling is available to all pupils by establishing a right to access school-based counselling provided by qualified practitioners
  • Support students during the summer through a national hardship fund and rebalance bursaries and extend loan payments to stretch over the summer months
  • Make an extra year of SAAS funding available for those who have to repeat a year
  • Support a right for all young people to access youth work opportunities. Integrate youth work into local and national mental health support and referral systems, including CAMHS and NHS Health Boards.
  • Ensure all youth workers and volunteers are offered mental health and wellbeing training
  • Ensure all health and social care workers have access to dedicated mental health support and counselling
  • Allocate 10% of frontline health spend to mental health by 2026, providing an additional £235m funding a year
  • Prioritise providing children and young people with the dedicated mental health support investing an additional £161m into Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) by 2026, and doubling the budget for community mental well-being services for children and young people to £30 million