Humza Yousaf has set out his government priorities for the next three years – including delaying the deposit return scheme, temporarily scrapping peak rail fares and rethinking plans to ban alcohol adverts.

The First Minister set out his "fresh start" priorities in government under the three themes of equality, opportunity and community.

Speaking in Holyrood, Mr Yousaf acknowledged “Scotland faces genuinely difficult challenges” as he pledged to govern “in the interests of the whole of Scotland”.

Deposit return scheme delayed

Mr Yousaf announced that the deposit return scheme will be delayed for seven months, following a backlash from the business community.

The FM pointed the finger at the UK Government for what he claimed was a refusal to decide whether some producers will be exempt from the Internal Market Act.

Read more: Humza Yousaf delays deposit return scheme after business backlash

He told MSPs that his government has “heard the concerns of business, particularly about the scheme’s readiness for launch this August”.

He added that the launch will now not take place until March 1, 2024, which he said “provides 10 months for businesses to get ready”.

He said: “We will use that additional time to work with businesses, and Circularity Scotland, to address concerns with the scheme and ensure a successful launch next year.”

Alcohol advertising plans to be re-drawn

The Scottish Government had also faced criticism from businesses over its plans to crack down on alcohol advertising, amid warning it could cause serious harm to the drinks sector.

In his policy priorities, Mr Yousaf admitted “some of the proposals have caused real concern to an industry which is already facing challenges on multiple fronts”.

The First Minister confirmed he has “instructed my officials to take these ideas back to the drawing board”, adding that civil servants will “work with the industry, and with public health stakeholders, to agree a new set of proposals”.

Rail fares trial to begin

The Herald: A pilot to scrap peak train fares will begin in OctoberA pilot to scrap peak train fares will begin in October (Image: PA)

Mr Yousaf told MSPs that a six-month pilot to ban peak-time rail fares “will start in October this year”.

He stressed that the findings of the trial “will allow us to bring forward further targeted measures, from next year onwards, to ensure that the costs of transport are more fairly shared”.

FM to convene poverty summit

Mr Yousaf will convene a cross-party summit to try and eradicate poverty.

He told MSPs that his anti-poverty strategy will require the Scottish Government to “be even bolder on taxation, and the redistribution of wealth”.

Read more: Humza Yousaf's relaunch 'torpedoed' by arrest of SNP treasurer

The summit will include experts, academics, anti-poverty campaigners and those with lived experience.

Mr Yousaf also promised a further £1.3 billion investment for the Scottish Child Payment over the next three years.

Transport upgrades

The Herald: The FM has pledged six new ferriesThe FM has pledged six new ferries (Image: PA)

Mr Yousaf pledged to MSPs that he “will deliver six new major vessels to service Scotland’s ferry network”, amid widespread concerns over the aging fleet and stuttering progress to launch new vessels.

The FM also said his government will double the charge point network for electric vehicles to at least 6,000 and increase the number of zero-emission buses on Scotland’s roads.

Affordable housing focus

The FM told Holyrood that his government will legislate for a “new deal for tenants” as well as bring in “duties to prevent homelessness”.

The Scottish Government will set out “an action plan” for housing in remote, rural and island areas, including £25m from to transform properties into affordable homes for key workers and others.

Social care pay timetable

Mr Yousaf has set out a commitment to pay adult social care workers £12 an hour, with a timetable to be set out.

Read more: Humza Yousaf attempts to set out 'fresh vision' as crisis dogs the SNP

He admitted the pay deal is not affordable “immediately”, but stressed he wanted to “send a signal to the sector that we are absolutely serious” about improving pay and terms and conditions for workers.

Attempt to strengthen rights

Mr Yousaf told MSPs that during the parliamentary term, his government will bring forward a Human Rights Bill which will aim to incorporate international standards on economic, social, cultural and environmental rights “within the limits of devolved competence”.

New Deal for local government

The Herald: Cosla, the umbrella organisation for local councilsCosla, the umbrella organisation for local councils (Image: Newsquest)

Mr Yousaf stressed that local government is a “vital partner” in delivering services, as he pledged to roll out a “new deal” for councils “to help us work together more effectively”.

He said it would give local government “more discretion on sources of funding”, including introducing a transient visitor levy, known as a tourist tax.

Focus on renewable hydrogen

The First Minister told MSPs he intends to “harness the huge potential of the green economy in Scotland”.

He told Holyrood that the country’s renewable energy resources will help develop a new hydrogen sector, adding that his government will “lay the foundations for a hydrogen supply chain” over the next three years.