Nicola Sturgeon has promised her government “will keep doing everything we can” to support the most vulnerable people in Scotland, in a New Year message.
The First Minister addressed people across the country in response to the cost of living crisis and stressed that there was “much to look forward to in the year ahead”.
Sturgeon’s words were joined by special New Year’s messages from other party leaders at Holyrood ahead of 2023.
Despite challenges being faced by many as a result of rising costs, Sturgeon said the Scottish Government will look to the longer-term “with optimism and resolve”.
She said: “We will prioritise resources to tackle poverty – especially child poverty.
“The Scottish Child Payment – which was increased and extended last month – now benefits more than 400,000 children, helping give them the best start in life that every young person deserves.”
The First Minister also addressed the increasing pressures on “precious” public services and, in particular, plans to help the NHS recover from the coronavirus pandemic.
She said the government will “work hard to reap the massive economic benefits” of Scotland’s efforts to tackle climate change and “help save the planet for those who come after us”.
She said: “As just one, but very important, example of that we are working with business to ensure that the truly transformational ScotWind programme doesn’t just power the country with clean, green renewable energy, but also creates thousands of new jobs in the process.”
Sturgeon also reflected on how the pandemic impacted people’s lives, adding: “Thinking back to last Hogmanay last year – and indeed the year before that – we’re reminded of just how far we have come, from the very darkest days of the pandemic.
“That progress is thanks to the extraordinary efforts of health service workers; of everyone who worked so hard to deliver the vaccine programme; and of course to all those who came forward to be vaccinated and boosted.
“As a result of all of that, and so much more besides, many of us will be looking forward to our first full Hogmanay celebrations in three years.”
Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross also reflected on the pandemic, saying “people across Scotland will be able to ring in the New Year with their friends and family in the traditional loud and lively fashion”.
“As festivities take place across the country, I’d like to express my thanks to all the key workers who are not celebrating but are instead working to keep the country safe this Hogmanay,” he added.
“They work tirelessly throughout the year and continue to work hard today while the rest of us continue to enjoy the holiday period.
“As we look ahead to 2023, the war in Ukraine and the global cost of living crisis mean that we face more tough times in the coming months.
“But, in spite of these challenges, I fully believe that Scotland can overcome any trials it faces to thrive in 2023.”
Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said families this year had experienced “considerable anxiety” but added “our communities – as always – have come together and done their best to tackle these hardships head-on”.
“I am determined that next year can be a better one for all of those struggling – a year filled with empathy, unity and hope,” he added.
“Let’s deliver the change that we want to see.
“So, from our family to yours, I hope the New Year brings you peace, love, health, happiness and success.”
Scottish Green co-leaders Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater used their new year message to lay out the work they have done in Government and thanking party staff and campaigners.
“We could never have done it without the collective voices of all our campaigners and supporters who helped elect us to where we are, and it is those same voices that drive us forward still, on so many issues,” the leaders said.
Scottish Lib Dem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “Whatever comes next, as we move into the new year, I want to remind all Scots that we are strong and resilient.
“As a nation we have faced challenges before, and we will overcome them again.
“Let us embrace the opportunities that the new year brings for reforming the UK and setting it on a new path towards a better, brighter future for all.”