WE can’t stick to the same failed policies that brought us here. An independent Scotland must have an economy that works for both the people and the planet.

One of the boldest and most ambitious visions for a better future and a well-being economy is the People’s Plan For Action published last month by the Scottish Trade Union Congress in association with The Poverty Alliance, Living Rent and many other groups.

The campaign focuses on a series of progressive demands ranging from enhanced public sector pay to rent controls from wealth taxes to universal free school meals.

At this year’s Scottish Greens conference, our party voted overwhelmingly to support the plan and to redouble our efforts to push for the powers to ensure that Scotland can always be at the forefront of improving pay, conditions and poverty relief in these islands.

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With Greens in the Scottish Government, we have made vital progress towards realising many of the plan’s objectives.

We also introduced free bus travel for everyone under 22. This has opened up the country for young people and their families while helping household budgets, public transport and our environment.

The rent freeze, introduced by Green co-leader Partick Harvie, will help hundreds of thousands of households and families through what will be among the most difficult winters for a long time.

Following this temporary measure, we will then introduce the biggest expansion of tenants’ rights since devolution. Before the end of this parliamentary term, we will have brought in a rigorous and robust system of permanent rent controls and tenant protections that will put fairness at the heart of housing policy.

When it comes to social security, we have acted to design a far fairer system than the brutal one that has been inflicted by Westminster.

One big step is the doubling of the Scottish Child Payment, which is now worth £20 a week for every eligible child and will soon be increasing to £25. This is tackling child poverty and putting money directly into the pockets of families all over Scotland, with no equivalent anywhere else in the UK.

This year saw the rollout of the new Adult Disability Payment in Scotland. Thanks to the work of Green MSPs, it is a far fairer and more compassionate replacement for the Personal Independence Payment.

Through positive and constructive engagement, we have scrapped the requirement for benefits assessments, ensured that all benefits controlled by the Scottish Parliament were raised at twice the rate of Westminster-controlled payments and acted to mitigate the harsh and unnecessary Tory benefit cap.

Across the UK, millions of people are being forced to work around the clock, often in very stressful conditions, and still finding themselves unable to make ends meet. As a result of the cooperation agreement that saw the Greens enter the Scottish Government, all government procurement contacts will now pay at least the living wage.

These are real and significant achievements which are directly improving the lives of millions of people across Scotland. They also show concrete progress towards building the kind of caring society that the STUC and their allies are calling for. This stands in stark contrast with a Westminster government that has happily plunged hundreds of thousands of people into poverty by delivering a catastrophic Brexit while cutting Universal Credit and giving us sky-high energy bills, runaway inflation and soaring interest rates.

While the campaign’s demands point to areas where we are making real and crucial progress, they also underline the massive constraints and limitations of devolution.

Every time we take a step forward, we are pulled back by a chaotic Tory government that is only interested in further enriching its wealthy friends and donors.

The reality is that when it comes to setting a proper minimum wage across the whole of the economy, expanding trade union rights, providing financial security to every family or regulating energy bills, the biggest decisions can currently only be made in Westminster.

We may have a new Chancellor and Prime Minister, but it’s not just the personnel who need to change, it is also the policies and vision of the government they lead.

The new Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, has already made clear that he is happy to return to the ruinous austerity the Tories started in 2010.

“Nothing will be off the table” is what he told the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg upon his appointment. None of this bodes well for this month’s Budget, which is likely to be the most punishing for years, especially for Scotland.

The wrecking ball that they are threatening to take to living standards would come on top of a decade of cuts and a pandemic that only exacerbated poverty and inequality and the worst cost crisis for generations.

The human cost will be devastating. Whenever the Tories talk about “tough choices”, what they really mean is austerity for ordinary people and families. But, at the end of the day, that is what austerity is for them, a choice. Just as the cuts of Osborne and Cameron were a political choice.

The problem for us is that once they have made that choice, the Scottish Parliament does not have the power to take a different path.

Over the last 12 months, Tory-caused inflation has seen the value of the Scottish Government’s budget fall by £1.7 billion.

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Our government is not allowed to run deficits, nor does it have real borrowing powers.

It cannot even raise taxes in-year, so the only way to make up that huge funding gap or pay for any new priorities which suddenly emerge, such as improved public sector pay settlements, is to cut other services.

That is the cost of being under Tory rule that we did not vote for.

That is why, when I see the work we are doing in Holyrood, I am both very proud and extremely frustrated.

And I am utterly convinced that only with independence can we deliver that fairer, greener society that both people and the planet so urgently need.