John Swinney has promised to publish a revised tax strategy for Scots within weeks, as he told MSPs he wants to bring parties at Holyrood together “to make our country better”.

The First Minister set out his priorities for Government after taking on the top job in Scottish politics earlier this month, saying “practical steps” will be taken in each of these areas.

He also announced the Programme for Government – in which ministers set out their plans for the coming year – will take place before Holyrood breaks for its summer recess at the end of June.

Glasgow Times:

The statement is traditionally made by the First Minister when Holyrood returns from recess in September.

Adding that work in his four priority areas – eradicating child poverty, growing the economy, investing in green energy to help deliver net zero, and improving public services – is already under way, Mr Swinney said Holyrood will be given the chance to debate proposed action before the end of June.

Speaking in Holyrood on Wednesday, he said his Programme for Government will be “central to a wider range of decision-making that will happen before the summer on key issues on energy, on oil and gas, on reform of the health service, and on taxation”.

The First Minister said a “revised tax strategy” together with an updated infrastructure investment plan will also be published, detailing “critical information on the challenges we face in the public finances and the actions this Government is taking to address them”.

He stressed the country faces “significant financial challenges”.

The First Minister said Brexit and the “prolonged era of austerity” imposed by the Conservatives at Westminster are taking their toll on the public finances.

He warned MSPs that the “cumulative effect of the high inflation we have experienced, austerity and Brexit” will all “have an effect on the priorities we can deliver”.

Meanwhile, with the SNP short of an overall majority at Holyrood, he said he will work with other parties to “tackle the challenges we face”, signalling his “willingness to co-operate beyond the Government with other parties to deliver for our people”.

Mr Swinney said: “I want my country to do well. I know that others in this chamber, across all parties, want Scotland to do well too.

“I offer to bring Parliament together on a shared agenda to make our country better.”