At this week’s Finance and Public Administration Committee, Deputy First Minister John Swinney MSP gave evidence about the impact of the Christie Commission on public services over the last decade.
When Convenor Kenneth Gibson MSP asked to provide some examples of public service reform that have made a tangible difference to people’s lives, Mr Swinney listed a few:
1. Creation of Police Scotland and Scottish Fire and Rescue Service
“The creation of a single police service and a single fire and rescue service were necessary and have provided both services with significant additional resilience, capacity and effectiveness across the country. Police reform in particular has attracted international commendation as being appropriate to the changing nature of the policing challenge that we face”
2. Expansion of Early Learning and Childcare
“Significant expansions of early learning and childcare, which have been about recognising the importance of early intervention in the lives of children and young people to ensure that they have the best possible platform for success.
“With those two significant expansions, culminating in the move to 1,140 hours of funded early learning and childcare in August, we have put into practice the principle of early intervention to ensure that children are given the best platform for their lives.”
3. The Young Person’s Guarantee
“There is a range of employment and training programmes and we recognise that each one of them individually has a justification and arguments for its existence, but what has been demonstrably proved to be the case is that, if you provide young people with a route that enables them to progress from school to whatever field lies beyond school - whether it is work, college or further training - the outcome is that we do not lose those young people from the labour market and we enable them to make a positive contribution to society.”
“Over the period between 2008/09 and 2019/20, there was an 85 per cent reduction in the number of 12 to 17-year-olds who were proceeded against in Scotland’s courts. Why? Because we have put in place earlier intervention to avoid the situation becoming so aggravated that it would merit someone going to court.
“For me, that is probably one of the best examples. There will be young people among them who can make a contribution to our society, but they have faced difficulties and potentially got themselves into trouble at some stage. To be blunt, a different approach from the state has resulted in those young people being able to make a more positive contribution to society than would have been the case in the past. That is about putting the principles of the Christie commission into practice in an operational way.”