Coming out of Covid-19: Reimagining Scotland

The RSE Post-Covid-19 Futures Commission has published a new report, ‘Reimagining Scotland’, making several recommendations for decision-makers to support Scotland’s Covid recovery.

The Commission was established to identify and address some of the immediate policy implications and challenges arising from the coronavirus outbreak and support the future of Scotland beyond the immediate crisis. Established in May 2020, the Commission has spent the past 18 months exploring four key themes: how to build national resilience; what makes good public debate and participation; the use of data, evidence and science in understanding and responding to Covid-19; and how inclusive public service was witnessed throughout the pandemic.

The learnings and recommendations of the Commission have now been brought together into a report.

This report reflects on the Commission’s learnings, findings and recommended actions to support Scotland as it emerges from the pandemic. The Commission is making several recommendations for decision-makers, to support Scotland’s Covid recovery and future resilience, including:

  • Forming a national participation centre and strategy for Scotland.
  • Creating a national foresighting centre.
  • Establishing a fully independent fact-checking service.
  • Transforming how we deliver public services.

An easy-read version of the report is available to download from the RSE Post-Covid-19 Commission microsite.

Download the report

Response from Deputy First Minister John Swinney:

The Commission brought together leading practitioners and thinkers from various sectors along with those with direct lived experience of the pandemic. Welcoming the report’s findings, Deputy First Minister John Swinney said:

The Scottish Government values the work of the RSE as Scotland’s National Academy and its commitment to advancing learning and useful knowledge. This commitment has been particularly evident over the last 18 months, with fellows of the RSE being at the forefront of supporting people in their understanding of the pandemic.

We welcome the Post-Covid Futures Commission report and will consider its recommendations closely.

The Scottish Government’s recently published Covid Recovery Strategy sets out the need to work collaboratively and build on the urgency, flexibility and creativity seen during the pandemic to tackle the inequalities that were exposed and exacerbated. We look forward to further engagement with the RSE as we work to support Scotland’s recovery from the pandemic and bring about a fairer future for everyone.

John Swinney, Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Covid Recovery

Summary of key findings:

Members of the Post-Covid-19 Futures Commission give a summary of the report’s key findings.

Public participation in decision making is key

The Commission recommends the Scottish Government establishes a National Participation Centre for Scotland, which will be tasked with working across Government and its agencies, as well as within communities and businesses, to support genuinely effective public engagement. This will also support the development of a National Participation Strategy for Scotland, in which third sector bodies and academic experts set out a vision for how best to engage citizens in the development and delivery of public policy and services.

Preparedness is vital.

An independent foresighting centre should be established, tasked with assessing future risk and preparedness. It would be responsible for advising Government, its bodies and business leadership organisations on effective management of these risks and how best to support resilience. The Commission also recommends that the RSE should work with the Scottish Government and the university sector to develop a rapid response service that enables the Government and wider public sector to rapidly access good quality, independent evidence and expertise from across the academic community, in a crisis situation.

Improving how science is communicated and increasing public trust in science is imperative.

A fully independent fact-checking service should be created to review and challenge misreporting and support the accurate presentation of scientific information in the public domain. The Scottish Government should also work with partners to support an informed national conversation about the use of personal data and data sharing for public good, to inform responses to future pandemics and other societal challenges.

A transformation in how we deliver public services is critical

The Scottish Government should set up a public service transformation partnership to actively promote the principles and experience of social prescribing from around Scotland and beyond. The Scottish Government should also reaffirm and recommit to the principles of the Christie Commission, and work with delivery partners to implement them across public services and beyond, with business champions engaged to support the approach.