The Scottish First Minister laid out plans to ease the cost of living crisis for Scots when challenged by BBC Breakfast’s Naga Munchetty on Friday morning. Nicola Sturgeon was then forced to defend the budget set aside to deliver on the SNP’s proposed second indyref next year. It comes as Ms Sturgeon announced the Scottish Government will look to make £500 million in budget cuts to deal with higher inflation costs.

Ms Sturgeon told BBC Breakfast: “We’ve got to operate within a budget that is fixed and essentially set by the decisions or UK government take now the value of our budget at the time we set it has been eroded by inflation to the tune of £1.7 billion.

'That's democracy' Sturgeon refuses to cut referendum budget as Scots struggle with bills

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said funding for a second independence referendum would not be cut

“So we’re having to do everything we want to do within a budget that is worth less because of soaring inflation. We’re also in I’m not complaining about this, we want to give fair pay deals to public sector workers, but the cost of pay deals again because of inflation is £700 pounds more than we budgeted for so we have to make all of that fit.

“So we’re looking at how we do that in a way that has least impact”

Naga asked the Scottish First Minister: “Whilst you’ve made cuts in that budget. Are you cutting the budget on the independence referendum?”

'That's democracy' Sturgeon refuses to cut referendum budget as Scots struggle with bills

Nicola Sturgeon forced to defend referendum funds

Ms Sturgeon said: “Well, of course, we’re talking about this financial year and the independence referendum I hope will be in the next financial year.

“So even if we did which we’re not going to because I was elected as First Minister on a commitment to an independence referendum, that’s democracy.

“I was elected with a record sheet of the vote in the Scottish Parliament elections last year on a record turnout.”

“So we’re going to deliver on that commitment to people but even if you want to look at that in a very narrow sense, stopping something that would incur expenditure in the next financial year is not going to help us in this financial year.

“But further than that, it would completely undermine the democratic mandate that we have.”

Ms Sturgeon also discussed the crisis facing the NHS in Scotland this winter telling BBC Breakfast the situation is “likely to be extremely difficult”.

She said: “We don’t know what will happen in terms of Covid circulation but should prepare for that to be challenging, similarly with flu.

“One of the key messages to people is: please, if you’re eligible, to make sure you get your Covid and flu vaccinations.”

Ms Sturgeon was asked if there would be pictures of ambulances queued outside accident and emergency departments again.

'That's democracy' Sturgeon refuses to cut referendum budget as Scots struggle with bills

Nicola Sturgeon: Profile

She replied: “We’re working really hard through investment into our NHS, trying to recruit more staff into our NHS.

“The challenges facing our NHS just now are considerable.

“These are big big challenges for governments everywhere. We have difficulties with accident and emergency waiting times, and we are working to reduce these.

“They are the best-performing anywhere in the UK. In the last few months we have been very successful at reducing the longest waiting times.”

Großer Preis des Deutschen Literaturfonds für Georg Klein

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