SCOTTISH independence is essential to resolving the Tories’ “deliberate” cost of living crisis impacting thousands of households, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

The First Minister said the ­devastating squeeze on living ­standards is the result of years of Westminster austerity policies such as benefit cuts and pay freezes.

She said they were “deliberate ­political choices forced on Scotland by Westminster governments that we did not vote for”.

Sturgeon made her comments ahead of a statement to the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday, in which she will outline her plans for a path to a second referendum to be held in October 2023.

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She will reveal how the Scottish Government intends to move forward with a referendum whilst Westminster withholds consent for a Section 30 order, which would allow the ­Scottish Parliament to legislate as it did in 2014.

Boris Johnson has repeatedly ­refused to grant such an order.

Sturgeon said Westminster ­austerity policies have caused ­families to face soaring energy bills and food prices.

She said: “The cost of living crisis did not happen overnight.

“Years of benefit cuts, pay freezes and failure to tackle rising energy bills, these were deliberate ­political choices forced on Scotland by ­Westminster governments that we did not vote for and have had a ­devastating effect on living standards.

“These decisions help explain why independent countries comparable to Scotland outperform the UK on a range of indicators – wealthier, more equal and with less poverty, and therefore more able to withstand cost of living pressures.”

Sturgeon highlighted a recent ­report by the Resolution ­Foundation, which found Brexit had reduced how open and competitive Britain’s ­economy is, as showing the ­“catastrophic ­consequences” of leaving the EU. It calculated by 2030, real pay is set to be £400 – just over 1% – per worker lower each year in Scotland.

Sturgeon added: “It is clearer than ever that when it comes to tackling the cost of living crisis, Westminster is not the solution to the problem, Westminster is the problem.

“And that is why independence is essential to tackling the cost of living crisis.”

The First Minister acknowledged Scottish independence is “not a ­guarantee of success”, but pointed out it will let the country make its own choices.

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She added: “Where we already have some independence in areas like social security, we’ve used those ­powers to make far better, fairer ­decisions, with transformational ­policies like the Scottish Child Payment.

“With the full powers of independence, there is absolutely no reason why a country as resource-rich as Scotland cannot replicate the success of our neighbours.”

A UK Government ­spokesperson said: “Now is not the time to be ­talking about another referendum. People across Scotland rightly want and ­expect to see both of their ­governments working together with a ­relentless focus on the issues that matter to them, their families and communities.

“That means tackling the cost of ­living, protecting our long-term ­energy security, leading the ­international ­response against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and growing our economy so that everyone has access to the ­opportunities, skills and jobs for the future. We are using all the tools at our disposal to bring inflation down and combat rising prices.”