The Scottish Budget for the coming financial year – passed by the Scottish Parliament last week - will have an impact on all our lives.

Like all budgets, it will help shape our economy and fund our NHS, schools and other vital public services.

Given the cuts to the Scottish Government’s spending power as a result of Westminster government decisions, this year’s process of balancing the books in Scotland has involved some hard priorities and tough choices.

But it has also demonstrated how we can use our powers and resources to deliver progressive policies, and continue the work of building a fair, inclusive and more prosperous Scotland for everyone who lives here.

The most pressing challenge facing households across Scotland right now is, without doubt, the rapidly and steeply increasing cost of living.

On Boris Johnson’s watch - for it is his government that still holds most of the levers to address these pressures - the cost of living crisis is spiralling out of control. Food prices are increasing, energy bills soaring, and working people are about to be hit with a National Insurance tax rise.

All of this is causing huge concern and worry - there is no doubt that people are really struggling.

That’s why it is so vital to get as much financial support as we can to people as soon as possible and, while our powers and resources are limited, the Scottish Government is determined to do all we can.

Last week, building on steps we have already taken, such as the introduction of the Scottish Child Payment and the funding of a Winter Support pacakage, the Finance Secretary announced a further £290 million in financial support to help address the rising cost of living

Firstly, the Scottish Government will provide £150 to every household in Council Tax bands A to D and to everyone in receipt of Council Tax Reduction no matter what Council Tax band they are in.

This support will reach 1.85 million households - which is 73% of the total number of households in Scotland.

In addition, the Finance Secretary also confirmed that she would provide a further £10 million for the Scottish Government’s fuel insecurity fund. This is intended to provide safety net support for those who are at risk of self-disconnection or self-rationing their energy use due to unaffordable fuel costs.

The measures announced last week are important and will help. And they represent the maximum that the Scottish Government can deliver from within current resources. But we recognise that more help is needed and so we will continue to press the UK government to step up and deliver measures on the scale required.

The focus of last week’s budget was on cost of living - but it was important in many other ways too.

For example, it delivers over £1.6 billion to support social care - a vital investment as we work towards the establishment of the new National Care Service.

The Budget includes funding to support the recruitment over this parliament of at least 3,500 more teachers and 500 classroom assistants.

And it also secures funding to double, from April, the “game-changing” Scottish Child Payment. Payments will increase from £10 a week to £20 a week – this will contribute hugely to our national mission of tackling child poverty.

However, while the Scottish Government continues to take a range of actions to tackle poverty, it remains the case that many of the key levers of welfare and economic policy are reserved to the UK Government.

Unfortunately, the current Tory Government at Westminster seems more intent on policies - such as the withdrawal of the Universal Credit uplift - that cause hardship and increase financial insecurity for millions of people, than on finding ways to lift people out of poverty.

That the UK Government has all of the levers to help struggling families but opts not to do so is a political choice. And it is not one that is acceptable to the majority of people across Scotland. If these powers lay instead with the Scottish Parliament, I have no doubt they could and would be used much more effectively.

Indeed, we can see that from the way in which the Scottish Government uses the powers it already has to protect and enhance universal services, such as university tuition, free prescriptions and personal care, and the delivery of high-quality funded early learning and childcare.

The problem is that, too often, for every progressive step the Scottish Parliament takes, Westminster drags us back. That is why getting more powers into the hands of our own Parliament is so crucial to building the kind of country we want to be. Despite the constraints of devolution, the Scottish Government is doing all it can to improve the health and wellbeing of people across the country.

We will continue to do everything we can to support people, particularly the most vulnerable, through these tough times. But the sooner we have the ability to make more of the key economic and social decisions here in Scotland, rather than having to mitigate bad decisions made at Westminster, the better it will be for everyone