Preparing the final recommendations

As described earlier in this chapter the final recommendations were drafted and voted on in weekends 7 and 8. The Secretariat provided an extensive pack in advance of weekend 7 with an overview of the evidence considered to date and other relevant information, together with key points of reflection from previous sessions, including the interim outputs prepared in weekends 3 and 4 and guidance on how to prepare recommendations. The materials were organised in 15 different topics which broadly related to key aspects of the Assembly vision.

Preparing recommendations was exceptionally challenging. Over the course of weekend 7 members worked tirelessly and patiently, sharing ideas, agreeing key themes and preparing the text of the recommendation and supporting material. Preparing 60 carefully considered recommendations in such a short period of time is an extraordinary achievement demonstrating the commitment and ambition of Assembly members; that these were prepared in a truly collaborative manner, as is shown by survey data, is even more remarkable (Member Survey, weekend 7, noted that across weekends 1 – 7, 81-94% of members either ‘tended to agree or ‘strongly agreed’ or that fellow participants respected what they had to say even if they did not agree with them and that 90% of members in weekend 7 say they were very happy with the options presented for voting).

"This weekend was so intense, I let some emotions out, tears. There was tiredness, feeling of accomplishment. I did have the feeling of [an] exam falling into place. I’m very proud I took part in it, I had my say and I look forward to next weekend."

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"To me, this weekend’s an overwhelming success and it’s saved the day. To the point now where I personally am very reluctant to let it go. It’s a shame we’re coming to the end of the process now, but we’ve got to hand it over, I get that."

To support voting in weekend 8 the recommendations were organised into the following thematic groups:

How decisions are taken

  • Covering a range of ideas to improve citizen participation in decision-making, the provision of information and the accountability of the Scottish Government and Parliament.

Income and poverty

  • a range of proposals to improve incomes and wages and to both prevent and tackle poverty.

Tax and economy

  • covering a range of ideas to improve tax collection, incentives positive behaviours and make taxation fairer, more transparent and better understood, and initiatives to develop new industries and employment opportunities, including through investments in research and development and innovation.

Young people

  • a strong focus on supporting young people to realise their potential, including support for their health and wellbeing, access to housing, skills development, employment and incomes.

Sustainability

  • ideas to improving Scotland’s environmental sustainability, including through technological innovation and use of taxes.

Health and Wellbeing

  • a strong focus on prioritising mental health, improving health promotion, on NHS governance, increasing the wages for healthcare staff and a focus on community health.

Further powers for Scotland

  • including a range of recommendations around tax powers, to negotiate own trade agreements and control immigration law, as well as other recommendations that do not explicitly reference constitutional change but which have constitutional implications, for example, around green tax breaks, reducing the pension age and around employment laws.

Mixed group

  • a range of other recommendations such as education and vocational opportunities, equal internet access and a review of the criminal justice system.
Member Profile James Ramsay

The outcome of voting
In weekend 8, members voted on the 60 draft recommendations. The voting took place across two sessions with voting and reporting of voting conducted in line with decisions made by members in weekend 7 (which can be found in Annex 13). In voting on the Assembly recommendations members decided whether they ‘strongly agreed’, ‘agreed’, ‘disagreed’ or ‘strongly disagreed’ with each recommendation. They further decided to report the results according to whether each recommendation was:

  • ‘strongly supported by a majority’ (where more than 75% of members either ‘agreed’ or ‘strongly agreed’ with the recommendation)
  • ‘supported by a majority’ (where more than 50% of members ‘agreed’ or ‘strongly agreed’ with the recommendation).
  • ‘Supported by a minority’ (where over 25% of members either ‘agreed or strongly agreed’ with the recommendation)
  • ‘not supported’ (where less than 25% of members either ‘ agreed’ or ‘strongly agreed’ with the recommendation)

103 members voted in the first round of voting on recommendations 1-37 and 100 members voted in the second round of voting on recommendations 38 – 60 (while there were 100 respondents to the second round of voting, one respondent only voted on recommendations 38,39, 40 and 41. This is likely due to a respondent exiting the survey before pressing ‘done’ on the survey). The detailed breakdown of voting on each recommendation can be found in Annex 14 of this report. All of the recommendations were supported in final voting, with 58 of the 60 being ‘strongly supported’ and the other 2 ‘supported by a majority’.

Some recommendations secured near unanimous support. Levels of support within the thematic groups are further discussed below, highlighting where overall levels of support were highest in that group and also where voting was highest for ‘strongly agree’:

How decisions are taken

  • All recommendations were ‘strongly supported’, with the exception of investment in national and community libraries which is a ‘majority supported’ recommendation. The highest levels of overall support were for those recommendations: calling for increased accountability to ensure the honesty, transparency and integrity of politicians; an accessible and honest annual presentation of major commitments and progress against them; encouragement of MSPs to consult and act on the views of constituents; and the publication of accessible tax payer documentation. The recommendation in this group where the highest number of members ‘strongly agreed’ relates to making further use of citizens’ assemblies to gather people views and ideas on issues of national importance.

Income and poverty

  • All recommendations were ‘strongly supported’, with the exception of the suggestion of a universal basic income for all citizens, which was a ‘majority supported’ recommendation. The highest overall support and where the highest number of members ‘strongly agreed’ concerns a legal requirement for a living wage and abolishment of zero hour contracts. Members were aware that these recommendations might relate to reserved matters of employment law.

Tax and economy

  • All recommendations were ‘strongly supported’. The highest overall support in this group was for recommendations relating to: tax incentives for all business to encourage good employment practices in terms of green values, job creation, wages, apprenticeships and workforce skills; and for investment in Scotland being a leader and hub in scientific and technological innovation. While not as high on overall support, the recommendation that secured the highest level of ‘strongly agreed’ votes covers a plan for small and medium business focused investment in Scotland to secure jobs in the wake of COVID-19.

Young people

  • All recommendations were ‘strongly supported’. The highest levels of overall support relate to: apprenticeships (in terms of increased opportunities and wages); the funding of mental health support and access to housing (social housing and making buying property more accessible), with the first two of these also those with the highest number of votes that ‘strongly agree’ with the recommendation.

Sustainability

  • All recommendations were ‘strongly supported’. The highest overall levels of support relate to: consistent recycling approaches and reduction of waste and unnecessary use of non-biodegradable products; and to investment in infrastructure to harness our renewable energy potential and green tax breaks to small businesses affected by COVID. The highest number of votes that ‘strongly agree’ were for recommendations related to improving energy efficiency of homes; and harnessing our renewable energy potential.

Health and Wellbeing

  • All recommendations were ‘strongly supported’, with the highest levels of overall relating: to improving transparency of NHS governance in terms of contracts being passed to private companies; increasing the wages for healthcare staff; and creating social and minor health care hubs in the community to build proactive community resilience and reduce the strain on hospitals. The highest votes that ‘strongly agree’ were also those recommendations covering transparency and wages.

Further powers for Scotland

  • All recommendations were in the ‘strongly supported’ quartile. Those receiving the highest overall levels support in this category were those relating to: tax powers; aspects of employment law, such as, abolishing zero hours contracts and the payment of a living wage; and green tax breaks to small businesses affected by COVID. The recommendation with the highest number of ‘strongly agreed’ votes relates to the living wage and zero hour contracts.

Mixed group

  • All recommendations were ‘strongly supported’, with the highest overall levels of support relating to: guaranteed free education, vocational studies and apprenticeships open to all ages; and improved public information systems to ensure collaboration, accessibility and communication. The recommendation on education and vocational opportunities had the highest number of ‘strongly agreed’ votes.

The recommendations capture the ideas and issues that have been important to members throughout the Assembly. The breadth of the recommendations and the levels of support for them send a very clear message to the Government and Parliament about the action the Assembly believes is needed to achieve its vision for Scotland.

Members and green colour

Weekend 8 livestream recording