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Nicola Sturgeon launches 'biggest campaign on the economics of independence' in SNP history

Image credit: PA

Nicola Sturgeon launches 'biggest campaign on the economics of independence' in SNP history

Nicola Sturgeon used her conference speech to fire the starting gun on the second independence referendum campaign, telling SNP activists “it’s time to get your jackets on” and take the party’s message to voters across Scotland.

Speaking at the SNP’s spring conference a week after announcing the Scottish Government will push for a second independence referendum before the next Holyrood election in 2021, the SNP leader confirmed the Scottish Government would introduce new legislation for a second vote by the end of next month, with the aim of passing it by the end of the year.

Sturgeon also announced plans for a new Social Justice and Fairness Commission, established on similar lines to the Sustainable Growth Commission, with the aim of examining how an independent Scotland could reduce poverty and drive employment.

And with members yesterday backing plans for Scotland to introduce a new Scottish currency “as soon as practicable” after an independence vote, the First Minister told delegates: “The conversation we have had within our party is one we must now have with the country. Yesterday, in endorsing our new economic plan, we took a big step, the right step. And in the process we demonstrated what a vibrant, engaged and democratic party we are.

“Over ten years ago we won the right to govern by demonstrating credibility with the financial powers of devolution. And make no mistake about this, if we can now show what is possible with the economic powers of independence, we will win a referendum.

“We have set out an ambitious, optimistic and realistic way forward for these new times. And so I can announce today that we will launch the biggest campaign on the economics of independence in our party’s history.

“By this summer, we aim to get information on Scotland’s potential into the hands of every voter. Our plan is to distribute ‘An independent Scotland: a household guide’ to every home across the country – all 2.4 million of them.”

The FM also announced plans for a new £150m pilot scheme aimed at helping young people buy their first home, in which applicants will be given a loan of up to £25,000 if they can raise five per cent of the cost of the property. 

This loan will be secured on the equity of the home, will be repayable in full at any time and must be repaid if the home is sold.

Sturgeon said: “We want to help people find places to live in the communities they want to call home.

“Some first time buyers trying to get onto the property ladder can call on the financial help of relatives or friends – the famous bank of mum and dad. But for too many, the simple truth is that, even on decent incomes, saving for a deposit takes so long it has become a distant dream.

“Many are even paying more in rent than they would pay for a mortgage and the simple fact is they don’t have the money left at the end of the month to save for a deposit.

“In a fair and equitable country that cannot stand. And so we will act. We will help young people with the deposits they need.

“If buyers can find just five per cent of the value of their new house from their own funds, we will do the rest. Starting later this year we will pilot a scheme to offer first-time buyers loans of up to £25,000 to fund or top up their deposit.”

There were also new plans to clamp down on short term letting companies such as Airbnb, with ministers expected to publish new proposals for consultation on further controls and powers for councils.

Sturgeon said: “For many people, short-term lets have enabled cheaper, more flexible travel. It’s one of the reasons Scotland’s tourism industry is booming. But for others – particularly in tourist hot spots – it is making it harder to find homes to live in.

“We are asking for views on a new system of regulation to make short term lets subject to the same controls as other accommodation. And give councils the power to control the number of lets and ensure they make a contribution to the services they use."

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