HUMZA Yousaf has been criticised for a lack of policies on Scottish independence in his first Programme for Government (PfG).

Alex Salmond’s Alba Party have accused him of being “scared of the i word” and have called on SNP members to demand the focus is shifted back to independence.

The PfG announced on Tuesday included a bunch of measures to tackle poverty, featuring a pledge to accelerate the rollout of funded childcare for two-year-olds and universal free school meals to those in P6 and P7.

Yousaf also confirmed plans to introduce “long term” rent controls in a raft of new policies aimed at tackling homelessness.

But Alba chair Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh (below) said the PfG was “kicking the independence can down the road” and called for SNP members to back a pro-independence pact to prevent a “set back” at the General Election.

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The party believes if the Scottish Government moves its focus away from independence, it will miss a “golden opportunity” to highlight the economic case.

“The SNP has got itself mixed up with many unpopular policies pushed by the Greens and that’s now showing an impact on their potential electoral support,” said Ahmed-Sheikh.

“The last thing we want is people turning away and going back to the tired old unionist politics of Labour and Tory, and therefore a pro-independence pact is essential going into the next election.

The National: Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh

“A Scotland United for Independence pact will free the movement from the baggage of policy confusion and allow it to campaign for independence with the urgency it requires.

“Fully harnessing Scotland’s enormous energy bounty emphasises that independence is essential to social and economic equality in Scotland. Independence is not something for the hereafter it’s something for the here and now.

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“Unfortunately, when it comes to independence it seems today’s Programme for Government was running scared from using the ‘i’ word. It’s vital now that SNP members take back control of their party at their conference next month to ensure that Scotland is united for independence.”

Elsewhere in the PfG, Yousaf announced income thresholds for the Best Start Foods programme would be removed by February and social care staff will receive a pay rise to at least £12 per hour from April.

The Scottish Government has also committed to consulting on a potential ban for disposable vapes and the FM pledged to improve the treatment of women and their families after a miscarriage.

He committed to the creation of a certificate and memorial book of pregnancy and baby loss which was a pledge of Nicola Sturgeon’s in her final weeks as first minister.