FIRST Minister Humza Yousaf has insisted he is “absolutely committed” to making Scotland a better place as he looks to mark his first anniversary in the job.

Yousaf, who was sworn in as First Minister on March 29 last year, spoke about how he was “honoured” to lead a government with “clear values”.

Since succeeding Nicola Sturgeon as both SNP leader and First Minister at Holyrood, Yousaf (below) has made work to tackle poverty and inequality central to his government’s efforts.

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But his time in the role has sometimes been overshadowed by the police investigation into the party’s finances – a probe that has seen both Sturgeon and her husband, former SNP chief executive Peter Murrell arrested, though both were released by police without charge.

With Yousaf in charge, the SNP has also seen MP Lisa Cameron (below) defect to the Tories, while the party lost the Rutherglen and Hamilton West seat to Labour in a by-election.

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Commenting on the difficulties Yousaf has faced, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said he almost feels sorry for the First Minister.

Cole-Hamilton commented: “Scandals have engulfed their party and every policy initiative they touch ends in chaos.

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“I almost feel a little sorry for Humza Yousaf.”

However, Yousaf, who was the youngest person to become First Minister when he took on the job, as well as the first person from an ethnic minority background to hold the post, insisted “important progress” has been made on his core “missions” of improving equality, opportunity and community.

He added that this had happened “despite limited powers, and real terms cuts from the UK Government to Scotland’s budget”.

‘I am honoured’

Speaking ahead of his anniversary, the First Minister stated: “I have set clear missions for the Government I lead, which are in the interests of everyone in Scotland.

“What drives me is fairness for all as we work to achieve better equality, greater opportunity and safer communities.”

He added that over the last 12 months, his administration had worked towards the “clear aims” of “delivering a just society” and providing a “supportive” environment for business.

The National: First Minister Humza Yousaf speaking at the SNP independence convention (Jane Barlow/PA)

Highlighting his government’s achievements, Yousaf stated: “We have worked with councils to agree to a council tax freeze to provide much-needed financial relief to Scottish households during the cost-of-living crisis.

“And we’ve invested a record £19.5 billion in our NHS – without losing a single day to pay-related strike action in our health system, uniquely in the UK.

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“We have invested in and driven progress on Scotland’s huge renewables potential, which will support economic growth, with a pledge of up to £500 million to support the offshore wind industry.

“Unlike the UK as a whole, Scotland has avoided entering a recession while recent business survey data shows stronger employment growth than anywhere else in the UK on top of long-term growth in GDP per person almost double the UK average since 2007.”

He insisted that Scotland was “well on our way to delivering one of the finest state-funded entrepreneurial systems in the world, dedicated to the creation of high-growth businesses”.

Referring to efforts to tackle child poverty, Mr Yousaf added: “Crucially, the policies of my Government will keep 100,000 children out of relative poverty and 70,000 out of absolute poverty in the coming year, according to recent modelling.

The First Minister said: “I am honoured every day to lead a government driven by clear values, and I am absolutely committed to continuing to make Scotland a better place to live, work and study for everyone who makes it their home.”