Scotland’s Covid recovery will have a “laser focus” on reducing inequality, John Swinney has said.
The Deputy First Minister published his plan for pandemic recovery on Tuesday, setting out a number of policies to address the damage coronavirus has caused.
Mr Swinney said there would be a particular focus on helping families on low incomes and improving mental health.
Among the policies was a £200 million fund for retraining workers whose jobs are at risk due to the pandemic or the transition to a net zero economy.
The Scottish Child Payment benefit will be extended to low-income families with children aged under 16 by the end of 2022.
It is currently available to families with children under six.
A further £15 million will go to local councils this year for mental health support for young adults.
Mr Swinney, who is also the minister for Covid recovery, said these were just some of the steps the government would take over the next 18 months.
He told the Scottish Parliament: “Our recovery must be about creating a fairer Scotland, it cannot be about going back to a way of living that for far too many people in Scotland was simply not good enough.
“That is why I’m publishing today the Covid recovery strategy – For a Fairer Future.
“This document has a laser focus on addressing those inequalities.”
Mr Swinney said a number of different groups had contributed to the report, including the Citizens’ Assembly and the Social Renewal Advisory Board.
Peter Kelly, director of the Poverty Alliance, said: “The levels of poverty and inequality in Scotland made the impact of the pandemic so much worse than it might otherwise have been.
“Insecure and undervalued employment, social security benefits that were inadequate and ingrained inequality all meant that some communities bore the brunt of Covid.
“As we look towards the end of the pandemic, it is right that the Scottish Government prioritises a recovery that addresses these underlying inequalities.”