HUMZA Yousaf has confirmed that extra cash will go to a scheme that provides a “vital lifeline” for those struggling with rising energy costs.

The new First Minister pledged that up to £30 million will be available through the Fuel Insecurity Fund in 2023-24 to help Scots in need.

It comes after former deputy first minister John Swinney announced that money previously earmarked for spending on an independence referendum would go into the fund.

Yousaf stressed that helping those affected most by the cost-of-living crisis is an “immediate priority” for him after he officially became First Minister on Wednesday.

He also hit out at the UK Government – saying it is as a result of its “mismanagement of the economy” that the Scottish Government is having to step in and provide assistance.

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Cash from the Fuel Insecurity Fund will help people in Scotland who are either limiting their use of energy or self-disconnecting their supply because of financial pressures.

The money will be available to third-sector organisations which will use it to support “vulnerable households” – with the scheme having previously allocated cash to bodies such as the Fuel Bank Foundation, Advice Direct Scotland and the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations.

Yousaf said: “I have said my immediate priority is to do everything we can to protect every Scot as far as possible from the harm inflicted by the cost-of-living crisis.

“That is why, in one of my first acts as First Minister, I can confirm today that we will build on our commitment to double the Fuel Insecurity Fund from £10 million to £20 million – to now triple it to £30 million for 2023-24.

“In a country as energy-rich as Scotland, we should not have people living in fuel poverty. My Government will renew and redouble our efforts to lift people out of poverty, to make work fair, to make our economy work for the people.

“With energy bills still at historically high levels and the UK Government’s Energy Bills Support Scheme being withdrawn from April 1, over the next year our Fuel Insecurity Fund will continue to be a vital lifeline for many struggling households in the country.

“It is of course only as a result of the UK Government’s mismanagement of the economy and the cost-of-living crisis that we are having to take this action. This Scottish Government will always put the interests of the people of Scotland first.”