A year of progress: Humza Yousaf’s first year in office

On the one year anniversary of Humza Yousaf becoming SNP leader and First Minister of Scotland, we look back on a tumultuous year. Despite deeply challenging circumstances, the First Minister has proven that the SNP can and will continue to defy the constraints of devolution to build a fairer Scotland.

The SNP Scottish Government has centred its approach around the principles of equality, opportunity and community.

That’s we’re thoroughly committed to fighting poverty, improving Scotland’s public services, protecting our environment and building a greener, fairer economy.

Here’s all you need to know about Humza Yousaf’s first year as First Minister.

Reducing poverty, helping families and fighting Westminster’s cost-of-living crisis

  • The ‘game-changing’ Scottish Child Payment is supporting well over 300,000 children making a transformative difference and demonstrating the SNP Scottish Government’s commitment to mitigating the worst impacts of Tory austerity. The latest estimates suggest 100,000 children could be lifted out of poverty by the end of 2024 thanks to the Scottish Child Payment.
  • The First Minister tripled the Fuel Insecurity Fund to £30 million in his first 100 days – helping to protect families across Scotland with pressures of soaring energy cost inflicted by this Tory cost-of-living crisis.
  • The SNP Scottish Government have announced a funded council tax freeze to alleviate the pressure on family finances – already stretched to breaking point as a direct result of Tory mistakes.
  • During Humza Yousaf’s short tenure, Scotland saw a record number of affordable housing completions. In the latest year to end September 2023, the number of affordable homes completed has increased by 9%. A total of 15,765 affordable homes have been completed between 23 March 2022 and 30 September 2023 towards the target of 110,000 affordable homes by 2032.
  • In May 2023, the First Minister chaired a cross-party anti-poverty summit and committed to future Scottish Government targeting the poorest and most vulnerable in society.
  • In his earliest weeks as First Minister, Humza Yousaf announced an additional £15 million to support families with free school age childcare.

Securing Scotland’s future with a fairer, greener and thriving economy

  • In his first 100 days, the First Minister pledged £17.5 million to help establish Scotland as one of Europe’s leading start-up economies, because a strong and thriving economy is central to Scotland becoming that wealthier, fairer country we all want to see.
  • The SNP Scottish Government published a National Innovation Strategy to make Scotland one of the most innovative small countries in the world – defying the constraints of devolution and attracting business interest from across the globe.
  • Humza Yousaf’s government is releasing Scotland’s manufacturing potential by driving economic prosperity through Scotland’s own National Manufacturing Institute.
  • The First Minister and his cabinet are working with our dynamic businesses in Scotland to ensure they have room to build and grow, establishing the New Deal for Business Group to strengthen collaboration between government and the private sector.
  • At the SNP’s national conference, the First Minister announced a Scottish Bond, proving Scotland can punch well above our weight and underlining the Scottish Government’s aim to attract investors and financiers from around the world to see Scotland as a place to do business.
  • Humza Yousaf has forensically criticised the nature of the UK’s broken economic model, an outdated and creaking system that is driving down living standards, deterring investment and hampering productivity. While Labour and the Tories double down on their devotion to this orthodox Thatcherism, the SNP is proudly the party of progress. In just March of this year, the First Minister gave a landmark speech to the London School of Economics where he called for a shift away from Westminster’s policies of economic stagnation.
  • The Scottish Government has rightly argued against the Tories’ and Labour’s reckless economic plans, including tax cuts for the richest and a windfall tax that would punish Scotland’s economy and drive up the bills of Scottish families – all to build nuclear power stations in England.

Protecting our environment and tackling the climate crisis

  • Scotland was among the first countries in the world to declare the climate emergency. Our unwavering mission to tackle climate change remains at the heart of the SNP Scottish Government’s vision for Scotland’s just transition.
  • The Scottish Government has invested £25 million to support the Just Transition across the North East, delivering on our vow to make the region a powerhouse of renewable energy in the transition away from fossil fuels.
  • Humza Yousaf’s government has also committed to designating at least one new national park in Scotland by 2026 and investing £1 million in skills and training to boost woodland creation – protecting our cherished natural environment for future generations.
  • The Scottish Government has pledged £7 million to be invested in projects aimed to drive innovation in the production, storage and distribution of renewable hydrogen.
  • In April 2023, the Scottish Government announced “Delivery is ongoing of projects from year one of the Just Transition Fund, backed by £50 million of multi-year capital grant funding, including a skills passport for offshore energy workers, work to develop supply chain pathways, promotion of emerging technologies, and investment in community projects like ecovillages and local climate assemblies.”
  • Under Humza Yousaf’s leadership, Scotland has doubled down on the aim to reach net zero, in the face of the Conservatives cutting funding and Labour u-turning on all of its climate and environmental policies in a shift to win Tory votes.

We’re investing record amounts in health

  • Scotland’s NHS is secure with record high investment – at £19 billion, with resource funding more than doubling (in cash terms) since the SNP came into power 2007.
  • Humza Yousaf, a former Health Secretary himself, acutely understands the pressures facing the health service. That’s why additional funding has been pledged to tackle drug deaths, clear waiting lists and improve mental health care.
  • In his first months in office as First Minister, Humza Yousaf’s government launched a a new ten-year Cancer Strategy that is to improve cancer survival and ensure equitable and accessible cancer care for all, alongside investing a further £9 million in cancer support services.
  • A further £15 million has been invested to support mental health and address social isolation and loneliness in adults, as part of our published strategy to improve the mental health and wellbeing of people across Scotland.
  • Thanks to the approach of the Scottish Government, Scotland is the only part of the UK not to be plagued with NHS strikes.
  • Humza Yousaf has made clear he is proud that health workers in Scotland are the best paid in the UK, with social care staff seeing an significant pay increase during his leadership.
  • As a result of this additional spending per head Scotland has 76 GPs per 100,000 people, compared to a national UK average of 60. Scotland also has more qualified nurses and midwives per 1,000 population than the UK, with 8.1 per 1,000 recorded in Scotland compared to 7.9 in the UK as a whole.

A leading voice for justice in the Middle East

  • Humza Yousaf was a caring an compassionate in Scotland after the 7th October attacks, and has been a unifier while other politicians turn to divisive rhetoric in the wake of the violence.
  • With his own loved ones trapped in Gaza, the First Minister proved himself a statesman of the highest standard with his calls for restraint and a de-escalation of the conflict.
  • From the early days of the Israel-Hamas conflict, the First Minister was among the first world leaders to call for a ceasefire and set an example others soon followed.

The choice is clear

The First Minister himself has been clear; this has been a difficult year for the SNP.

But in the face of the gravest personal and political challenges, Humza Yousaf has proven that the SNP is resolute in its mission to deliver for Scotland and build fairer, greener country we can all be proud of.

The coming general election will be a referendum on the Tories’ divisive politics. The SNP is emphatic in its drive to see Scotland Tory-free; the Conservatives have done enough damage and must be removed from office.

But Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour have shifted so far to the right that it is now embracing the Tories’ toxic policies. From privatisation of the NHS to the abolition of free tuition, Labour is not going to stand up for Scotland’s values.

These are worrying, difficult times – not just in politics, but for hardworking families up and down the country. They deserve the right leadership, with politicians who will put them first. The SNP have and always will be that strong voice for Scotland. If we as a country can achieve so much in one year, imagine what we can do together in the years ahead.