Asylum seekers in Scotland are to be given free bus travel under a new £2million-a–year plan announced by minister Patrick Harvie.

The co-leader of the Scottish Greens said the money had been earmarked within the Scottish budget for 2024/25, which is due to be published next month.

The policy is expected to benefit around 5,000 people although a start date and the exact mechanism to deliver the change have yet to be identified.

He said: “We have agreed that the next Scottish budget will provide £2m to allow asylum seekers resident in Scotland to access free bus travel

“Making that a reality will take time. It also means carefully considering any potential negative consequences for people we are trying to support, in light of the hostility we know they face from the UK Government. 

“But we now have a firm commitment to work through the necessary legislative and budget changes to achieve that end.”  

He told his party conference in Dunfermline that he was working to get island residents aged under 22 free ferry travel.

Mr Harvie also said the Greens and SNP in the Scottish Government would develop a “firm alternative” to the council before the 2026 Holyrood election.

However such plans have been promised before down the years and come to nothing.

Humza Yousaf recently announced plans to freeze the council tax in 2024/25 to help with the cost of living, taking councils and his junior partners in government by surprise.

Mr Harvie said Green MSPs and councillors had “clearly expressed criticisms of the council tax freeze” and the issue had highlighted "just how broken local government funding is”.

He told delegates: “By the end of this Parliament there will finally be a firm alternative put forward to complete the long overdue replacement of council tax.

“It’s only with Greens at the table that progress is possible.”

The Zero Carbon Buildings minister also accused Rishi Sunak of copying the German far-right on climate policies.

Referring to the Prime Minister’s recent dilution of environmental targets, he said: “In Germany, over this summer, heat pumps have become the new hate-symbol of choice for the climate-change deniers of the extreme right.

“Here in the UK, a Prime Minister, desperately clutching at anything that will allow his party to cling to power, has once again chosen once again to copy the extremism of the far right.”

He condemned Mr Sunak as “vacuous” and having “absolutely nothing real to say”.

He said: “Last month Rishi Sunak scrapped energy standards for private rented homes, consigning private tenants to colder homes and adding over £300 extra on their fuel bills. That’s not the choice I am making.

“Our path to a zero carbon future will not include abandoning Scotland’s 300,000 private tenants to cold, damp homes, to higher fuel bills, and fuel poverty.

“Unlike Rishi Sunak, we won’t scrap action on this. The Heat in Buildings Bill which I will take through Parliament will include new regulations that make sure landlords invest in the improvements that give tenants the warm and healthy homes they deserve to live