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Today I will launch our new Programme for Government, the SNP Government’s plan to shape the kind of Scotland we all seek - an inclusive, fair, prosperous, innovative country, ready and willing to embrace the future.

In the ten years the SNP have been in government we have achieved many things. We have developed our economy, protected jobs and businesses and made record investments in public services. We have expanded free early learning and childcare, abolished prescription charges, kept access to university free of tuition fees, confronted climate change head-on and transformed our infrastructure.

In Glasgow alone there is a lot we can be proud of. We have provided over £140 million of support for businesses, funded over 13,000 affordable homes - including 9,000 housing association homes for social rent - and delivered major infrastructure projects such as the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, and most recently the M8 improvements.

The consequences of other economic decisions have maybe been less visible, but they have still been significant. In 2007 we launched a new economic strategy – among other things, that strategy set out key sectors of the economy where Scotland has particular opportunities and strengths.

Many of those sectors – tourism, food and drink and renewable energy - have gone from strength to strength since then.

One of our key pledges was to establish the small business bonus scheme. It now benefits more than 100,000 business premises every year - with 7,000 premises in Glasgow exempt from paying rates altogether.

It is because of many of these decisions that we are in a position of some strength today. Unemployment in Scotland is close to its lowest ever recorded rate. It is also below the UK level. Very encouragingly, our youth unemployment rate is half what it was ten years ago and now one of the lowest anywhere in the EU.

Now it is time to refocus our efforts and our Programme for Government sets out a fresh agenda to meet the changing needs of our people and the unprecedented challenges of our times - for example Brexit, climate change, rapidly advances in technology, an ageing population, and continued Westminster austerity.

Scotland has immense economic potential. In this Programme for Government we set clear and bold ambitions, to encourage investment and innovation in technologies where we already have strengths, but also where there will be a global and growing demand in the future, such as advanced manufacturing, low carbon technology and life sciences. We’ll set out how we intend to provide more support for graduate entrepreneurs, support business expansion, and increase resources for research and development by nearly 70%.

Our plans also include major reforms in education, health and justice, new opportunities for our communities and important measures to safeguard the environment and improve the quality of housing.

Vital to all of what we aspire to as a nation is our commitment – my personal commitment - to ensure that all children and young people, whatever their background or circumstances, get the same chance to reach their full potential.

We are already delivering a range of policies to help achieve this ambition – in Glasgow, our budgets have supported the building or refurbishment of more than 70 schools. Over 14,000 children in P1-P3 are receiving free school meals and over £30 million is being invested in schools with the specific aim of raising attainment. In addition, within less than a month of its launch more than 3,000 mothers in the Greater Glasgow area have registered for a Baby Box - an initiative that provides practical help for new parents, encourages engagement with health visitors and reinforces the principle that all children deserve the same start in life.

We have made so much progress but there is still much more to do. That is why, over the year ahead, from our plans to secure the near doubling of free early learning and childcare, to our work to tackle child poverty, the school reforms that will put more power and resources into the hands of teachers, and our work to equip the NHS for the challenges of the future, will we be bold in our determination to make the country ready to face the challenges and seize the opportunities of the next decade and beyond.

And as we reflect on the progress of the last decade and look ahead to the challenges and opportunities of the future, our purpose is clear - we want Scotland to be the best place in the world to bring up children, the best place to grow up and be educated, the best place to live, work, visit, invest and do business, the best place to be cared for in times of sickness, need or vulnerability and the best place to grow old.

This programme sets out our next steps in creating the better future we all want for our nation.