ALEX Salmond will claim today that £1 billion spent on social housing over the past three years is good for "our economy and good for our society".

The First Minister will highlight the SNP government's spending as he and the rest of the cabinet travel to Selkirk, in the Borders, for a question-and-answer session with voters.

He will confirm the £1bn bill since 2011. It is due to rise to £1.7bn by the end of this Holyrood term in 2016.

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But he will claim Westminster gets the benefit of savings resulting from lower housing benefits costs in Scotland as he calls for greater economic powers to be handed to Scotland.

Mr Salmond will say: "Scotland is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, more prosperous per head than France, Japan and the UK itself - but we need the economic powers that come with independence to make the most of our huge resources.

"That means being in control of our own finances rather than having them in the grip of Westminster.

"For example, since 2011, this Government has spent £1bn on social housing. By the end of the parliament, we'll have spent £1.7bn."

The SNP leader will point out that rents are lower north of the Border because more housing is available, adding: "It's an investment which is good for our economy and good for our society. If housing rents are lower, the Government has to pay out less housing benefit.

"The Scottish Government pays for our 30,000 affordable homes during this parliament. But the benefit, lower housing benefit costs, flows to the UK Government. So, at the moment, we invest in policies but the savings go to Westminster."

Mr Salmond is expected to add: "There is a similar issue with childcare. One of our most important ambitions is a transformation in childcare in Scotland."

Holyrood's Education and Culture Committee will vote tomorrow on plans to increase annual funded childcare for three- and four-year-olds to nearly 16 hours per week and extend this to disadvantaged two-year-olds from August.