SCOTLAND’S first Citizens Assembly is to reconvene online in order to finish its mission this year.

The £1m deliberative body, which was set up by Nicola Sturgeon last year to consider Scotland’s long-term challenges, had been suspended since March because of the Covid lockdown.

It was due to report to ministers in June, but the timetable has now been lengthened with the agreement of the Government, and its work will also consider the impact of coronavirus.

Unionist parties have previously called for a boycott of the Assembly, accusing it of being a front for independence.

However the 100-member body, which is designed to be a microcosm of Scottish society, has proved more radical than SNP ministers may like.

It has already expressed “strong support” for increasing taxes on wealth and property to create a fairer tax system geared towards a zero-carbon economy.

It has also considered decriminalising some drugs and taxing them to pay for public services, thereby taking power away from criminals who dealt them illegally. 

It has already met in person four times, and will complete its work online from September to December.

Constitution Secretary Mike Russell said: “The Assembly has a unique contribution to make in helping inform Scotland’s strategy for renewal after the current crisis, and I look forward to receiving its report and recommendations.”

Convener Kate Wimpress said: “We are coming together again, safely, to finish the work we began.

"Citizens setting out a roadmap for Scotland at a difficult and uncertain time.

"Our members are showing we can do politics differently and I want to thank them for their dedication and determination in sticking with this vital work.”

Scottish Green co-leader Lorna Slater said: “I’m pleased the Citizens Assembly is to resume its work, and it is absolutely crucial that its voice is heard in the coming months.

“The assembly needs to be more than just another Scottish Government consultation. 

“As we plan a recovery from the Covid-19 crisis, its voice will provide a vital counterweight to the corporate interests calling for a swift return to a business-as-usual that served no one but themselves.

“We’ve already seen the Scottish Government’s top adviser on the recovery dismiss anything other than a return to the free-market approach which has driven inequality and damaged our communities and the planet. The recovery needs to be led by the people it should benefit, not those stuck in the failed old ways of the past.”