Last week, First Minister Humza Yousaf MSP announced a Programme for Government defined by three distinct and interdependent missions - equality, opportunity, and community.

The programme is positive news for North Ayrshire and Arran and it was clear from the announcement that the SNP Government’s immediate focus is to protect people as far as possible from the harm inflicted by UK Government policies and economic mismanagement, which is contributing to the ongoing cost of living crisis.

As someone who grew up in deep poverty, and who speaks about the issue regularly in the House of Commons, I was delighted to hear that the first mission – based on equality – is to tackle poverty in all its forms, with a particular focus on substantially reducing child poverty.

This includes tripling the fuel insecurity fund from £10 million last year to £30 million, investing a further £1,300 million in the Scottish Child Payment, expanding the provision of free school meals and convening an anti-poverty summit to explore new ways to end poverty.

The First Minister emphasised that, despite Scotland being bound by a failed UK economic model, Scottish Ministers will use all their powers to support sustainable economic growth for a purpose; to help businesses and trade thrive while seizing the economic and social opportunities to deliver a just transition of Net Zero.

This second mission, based on the principle of opportunity, will help to deliver a wellbeing economy in Scotland, where quality of life, equality, fairness, sustainability, happiness and health will be given equal weight as a measure of economic growth as that of narrowly defined indicators such as Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Public services such as the NHS, social care, transport, and Police Scotland will be prioritised, and I’m pleased that this played a central role in the third mission, based on community.

This encompasses commitments to accelerate the expansion of childcare for one- and two-year-olds and introduce a six-month pilot from October to remove peak-time fares from ScotRail services.

This policy agenda is bold, progressive and ambitious and I have been pleased, but not surprised, by the positive reaction from stakeholders to the programme announced, with charities and organisations such as Crisis Scotland, Oxfam Scotland, Federation of Small  and Scottish Chambers of Commerce all issuing statements welcoming the First Minister’s new vision for Scotland.

The programme is a world away from the Westminster Tory Government, with a Chancellor who has implemented devastating cuts in public spending and failed to protect families from the cost-of-living crisis, and a Labour party which provides no better alternative and seeks to keep Scotland tied to Westminster control – with Brexit, austerity, and sky-high energy bills.

Unfortunately, the majority of powers remain at Westminster. However, despite these constraints, the SNP has a clear vision for Scotland and policies to take Scotland forward to become healthier, fairer and more equal.

Nonetheless, independence is the only way to unleash and unlock Scotland’s full potential and escape UK Government economic mismanagement, which is harming people and businesses across the country.