Young Scots will not have to pay council tax until they are 21 if the SNP is re-elected to power in May, Finance Secretary Kate Forbes has pledged.
She said increasing the age at which people start to pay the levy from 18 could save young people living in their own homes hundreds of pounds a year.
She made the pledge because the coronavirus pandemic has had a “stark impact on the job prospects of our young people”.
Ms Forbes said: “In recognition of the impact Covid has had on lives and opportunities for young people, particularly those entering the jobs market for the first time, we will increase the age at which young people become eligible for council tax from 18 to 21.
“For a young person living alone in a Band B property that will mean an annual saving of around £750.”
With Covid-19 also having a “disproportionate impact on women”, the Scottish Finance Secretary also promised more help for women starting their own businesses.
She said that over the Scottish Parliament’s next five-year term the SNP would invest £50 million in a Women’s Business Centre “to help create, grow and develop the next generation of women-led businesses”.
She added that an SNP government would invest more than £33 billion in infrastructure over the next five years, to support 45,000 jobs in Scotland.
Ms Forbes also promised a a new £20 million Rural Entrepreneur Fund to provide grants of up to £10,000 to support the creation of 2,000 new businesses in remote communities.
The Finance Secretary, speaking at an SNP campaign conference ahead of the May 6 Holyrood election, stressed that the “next session of the Scottish Parliament will be crucial to Scotland’s recovery”.
While the SNP’s opponents have criticised the party for looking to hold another independence referendum after the Covid-19 pandemic, Ms Forbes insisted independence could help Scotland’s economic recovery from the virus.
She said: “Some people might say we should put economic recovery before independence. But you can’t have one without the other.
“For a strong, robust, green recovery we need independence.
“Why? Because, quite simply, we know what happened last time the Tories were in charge of economic recovery.
“After the crash of 2008, the Tories embarked on a decade of austerity – balancing the books on the backs of the most vulnerable.
“Our ambitions should be bigger than just mitigating the Tories’ economic incompetence and brutal welfare policies.
“But be in no doubt, without the powers of independence, it will be a Tory government that undermines our recovery.”