Sturgeon puts mental health improvements at heart of programme for government

"In this programme for government I am committing to the most ambitious long-term level of infrastructure spend that Scotland has ever seen - that is investment in schools, hospitals and transport, and in digital connectivity and clean energy". That means doing more to support positive mental health and to prevent ill health.

The Scottish Government will bring forward 12 new Bills in the coming year, including legislation ensuring European Union citizens living and working in Scotland can continue to vote in Scottish election.

She added the proposals contained "plenty of well-meaning soundbites, but little of substance to transform Scotland's economy, local services or justice system for the better". If the First Minister wants to make meaningful change, she needs to get a move on.

Ms Sturgeon plans to spend £250 million extra over four years to improve mental health treatment for children, spend up to £7.5 billion a year on new roads, schools and hospitals by 2026, and another £12m towards supporting ultra-low emission cars and buses.

As she unveiled her programme for government at the Scottish Parliament, she said measures in it proved that "health services value and support mental wellbeing just as much as physical wellbeing".

"This government has shown that they are very, very good on promises and consultations but a little bit less energetic when it comes to delivery and action".

The SNP leader pledged her ministers wold continue to fight to keep Britain in both the single market and the customs unions, as she blasted Theresa May's government's "shamefully shambolic" handling of the negotiations.

Ms Sturgeon did make new announcements.

"The people of Scotland did not vote to leave the European Union, but in this parliamentary year, we are set to be taken out of the EU against our will - with continuing uncertainty around our future relationship with the world's largest trading block, which is around eight times larger than the United Kingdom market alone".

The Scottish government also plans to establish 20 "electric towns" across Scotland by 2025 under a new Switched on Towns and Cities Challenge Fund.

That was promised after figures showed Scots were making more journeys by vehicle while bus and cycle use is declining.

In her statement, the SNP leader said that rising demand for services was in part because the "stigma" surrounding mental health problems was waning.

Co-convener Patrick Harvie said the government was "starting to lose its way", saying it was his party which was "bringing forward the fresh, bold ideas to keep our parliament moving forward".

He told MSPs: "I suppose every Government runs its natural course".

The Scottish government is to invest £15 million in the deployment of 1,500 electric vehicle (EV) charge points across homes, businesses and the public network under plans outlined officially today (4 September 2018).

Vanessa Coleman

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