Launch of National Performance Framework
Thank you, Alyson. And thanks to all of you for coming. I’m delighted to see people here – not just from around Scotland, but from across these islands and across the world. In fact, there are representatives from 14 other countries here today. It is a pleasure to welcome you all to Scotland.
The fact that people have travelled such distances to be here is an indication of the importance of today’s launch.
When the Scottish Government introduced our previous national performance framework in 2007, it had a significant impact. It helped to give the public sector, and in addition to that, individuals and organisations across the private sector, a very clear vision of the kind of country we wanted to create. In particular, it set out one purpose – creating a more successful country, with opportunities for all of Scotland to flourish, through increasing sustainable economic growth.
That purpose was underpinned by 16 outcomes and 63 indicators. And the “Scotland Performs” website helped people to assess how we were performing against those indicators. So it introduced a new degree of transparency around the work of government and government agencies, as well as focussing the country very clearly on the outcome we wanted to achieve.
Perhaps the most important thing about the framework, was that it gave all parts of the public sector a shared responsibility for all parts of the performance framework. It wasn’t fragmented, everybody had a responsibility to help deliver the whole. Our heritage and conservation bodies knew about our economic indicators and were encouraged to think about their contribution to delivering the economic indicators – and our economic development bodies also knew about our commitments to biodiversity and the marine environment. All public sector agencies and organisations were expected to work together to achieve all of those common goals. So it was about setting clear goals, delivering a news degree of transparency and for the first time, bringing everyone together in a way in which they understood the contribution they had to make.
It was quite transformational in how we did the business of government. That might sound straightforward, but some of the practical implications were extremely important.
For example, the prison service, the police, the courts service, the NHS and our local authorities came together to discuss the framework. They considered how their organisations could best use their combined resources to deliver the outcome “We live our lives safe from crime, disorder and danger”.
One consequence of that is that our police service in Scotland now has a legal duty to promote community wellbeing.
Another consequence is that all of those organisations have supported further investment in pre-school education – regardless of whether that benefits their individual budgets. They recognise that early years services can help them to achieve their shared goals. It’s a good example of how looking at outcomes made it easier to focus resources on prevention and early intervention.
And although it’s always difficult to work out exactly which interventions have achieved which outcomes – and although we still need to do more to reduce the impact of crime in Scotland – the most recent figures suggest that progress has been made. Ten years ago, the risk of being a victim of crime in Scotland was 20%. Two years ago, it was down to 13%. That’s real, hard evidence we’re moving in the right direction.
So in many respects, the framework we established in 2007 has been effective. Many of its outcomes and indicators are still very relevant. And the collaborative approach to service delivery that it encourages is more important than ever.
But inevitably, after more than a decade, there is a need to change and update. That’s why we have established the new framework, which is being launched today.
I’m going to talk about some its key features in a moment. But I want to emphasise first just how important the new framework is to the Scottish Government.
Our purpose, our values, the outcomes, the indicators – collectively they set out the sort of country we want to create, the Scotland we want to see. If indicators are heading in the wrong direction, it gives us the opportunity to find out why - and if we need to, we will take action. When things are going in the right direction, it enables us to ask what we need to do to maintain or increase progress and to learn what it is that’s making a positive difference. And we will make information about our performance available to everyone through the updated website.
Fundamentally, we believe that the performance framework is an aid to making Scotland a better country. So we are determined to continue to use it, report on it and deliver on it.
In fact, you get some idea of the importance we attach to the framework by looking at our consultation process.
Well over 200 organisations in Scotland were involved in conversations and online responses as we developed the new framework. The Carnegie Trust and Oxfam Scotland held street stalls in local communities in order to solicit views and opinions from members of the public. We also drew upon earlier responses to our fairer Scotland and Healthier Scotland consultations.
Many of the people here have been involved in those discussions in one form or another – we are very grateful to all of you.
We have also consulted with the Scottish Parliament – indeed it was as a result of that consultation that we added a new indicator on land ownership. I welcome the fact that all political parties endorsed the framework during a parliamentary debate last month.
And engagement with COSLA and local Government has also been really important. I welcome their endorsement for the new Framework, too – we will only succeed if we plan and deliver change through partnership between national government and local government.
The new framework, therefore, is not something we see as being solely a Scottish Government document. It has been driven by responses, ideas and proposals from individuals and organisations across the country.
Those proposals have encouraged us to make some important changes.
For example, we have included new indicators on issues such as gender balance in organisations, child well-being and happiness, and the importance of contractually secure work.
The new framework also includes a statement of values alongside our purpose. We want Scotland to be characterised by kindness, dignity and compassion. So we’re clear that government – and the way in which we conduct government – should encourage those qualities.
Fittingly, given that value statement, we have incorporated human rights into the framework. One of our 11 outcomes is that “we respect, protect and fulfil human rights and live free from discrimination.” That’s further evidence of our determination to embed human rights – including economic and social rights – in the way we make decisions and in the way we deliver services.
We have also made sure that the performance framework is compatible with the sustainable development goals – for example that’s one reason why we are now reporting the proportion of energy we generate from renewable sources. Scotland was one of the first countries to commit ourselves to the Sustainable Development Goals – so it’s important this new framework reinforces and embeds that commitment.
And the final change I want to highlight is to our purpose. Again, this has been a direct response to the feedback we’ve had from people and organisations.
The new purpose says that growth needs to be inclusive, as well as sustainable. That reflects our economic strategy, which is in itself based on evidence from around the world that high inequality – as well being a bad thing in itself – also makes economic growth weaker and less sustainable.
The purpose also highlights the importance of wellbeing. That’s another issue we see as being hugely important.
In fact, the Scottish Government has taken the lead in setting up a Group of Wellbeing Economy Governments, which followed an initial meeting of ministers in Glasgow last year.
Alenka, who will speak in a moment, was at that meeting. I’m delighted that she is here again today to share with us the approach being taken in Slovenia.
Wellbeing is an area where Scotland has seen some encouraging progress recently. The Office of National Statistics publishes an annual report on personal wellbeing across the UK. They released their lates findings last month. One of the publication’s key findings was that “improvements in worthwhile and happiness ratings in the UK were driven by Scotland”.
Obviously, we must be cautious about one year’s findings – and it is difficult to know what exactly has caused these improvements. However if the performance framework can play any part, in maintaining that trend in the years to come, it will be performing a hugely valuable role.
My hope and my very strong belief is that it can do that. The framework we’re launching today is motivated by the belief that everything we do should help to make Scotland a better place for all its people who leave here, regardless of where they come from. And it is informed by the knowledge that to achieve that, we need to focus – not just on the wealth of our nation, but on the wellbeing of the nation.
That emphasis is in keeping with much contemporary economic thinking – Professor Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel Prize winning economist, has said today that he is encouraged by our focus on wellbeing.
And it also finds echoes in an anniversary from last week. On Wednesday it was exactly 50 years since Bobby Kennedy’s assassination.
One of Kennedy’s greatest speeches, I think, was given about three months before his death, at the University of Kansas.
There’s a famous passage where he talks about the limitations of using economic output as a success measure. He points out that “gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country, it measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.”
It’s a beautiful expression of a genuinely very difficult problem. Scotland’s new performance framework is our attempt to try to address it and get the balance right.
We see sustainable and inclusive growth – higher GNP or GDP – as a vital way of raising living standards for all.
However we also understand that growth isn’t something we can aim for in isolation – it has to make people’s lives better. We have to test whether we are creating a fairer, wealthier, happier nation.
As we think about these issues, we know that Scotland doesn’t have all of the answers. I don’t think any country does. But in developing the new framework we hope, at the very least, that we are increasingly asking the right questions and playing our part in trying to find the answers, working with others as we do so.
And as we seek to deliver, measure and improve our performance framework in the years to come, it is a source of great strength to know that we can benefit from the perspectives of so many individuals, organisations and governments – not just from within Scotland but from across these islands and around the world.
That’s why today’s event is so important. It’s why – as I said at the beginning – it is wonderful to have such a large turnout and such a wide array of expertise gathered here. And it’s why the Scottish Government looks forward to working with all of you – not just for the rest of today, but in the months and years ahead.
So thank you very much for your contribution.