The SNP will pledge a “pandemic level response” to supporting communities, in its campaign for May’s council elections.

The party, which has been in government at Holyrood since 2007, says it has a plan “to help families in tough times”.

Its manifesto, to be launched by Nicola Sturgeon on Friday, includes promises to address the rising cost of living.

They include improving energy efficiency in homes and buildings.

Other key priorities to be outlined in the document include:

  • Protecting council tax reduction schemes
  • A new “parental transition fund” to tackle the financial barriers facing parents entering the labour market
  • More walking and cycling routes
  • Funding to maintain pavements, pathways and routes used by cyclists and pedestrians
  • Publishing plans to reduce kilometres travelled by car by 20% by 2030.

All 32 of Scotland’s councils will hold elections on 5 May.

The polls coincide with a cost-of-living crunch hitting millions across the UK, with soaring energy and fuel bills, rising prices in shops and changes to National Insurance payments.

More cycle paths are promised in the SNP manifesto

Ms Sturgeon, the SNP leader, is expected to praise the compassionate effort across Scottish communities to help families affected by rising costs.

She will draw on comparisons with community action throughout the pandemic, as she is expected to say only her party has a plan to combat the tough times.

At her manifesto launch, Ms Sturgeon will say: “Council elections are always important, but this one is particularly crucial.

“When I think about the last couple of years – of how we all pulled together in the face of huge uncertainty – I know that, by working together and with the right leadership, we can get through the challenges we are facing today and build a better tomorrow.

“What we need over the coming period is nothing less than a pandemic-level ‘Team Scotland’ response to these challenges.”

Counting is being held the day after the ballots, on Friday 6 May, with results expected from the 32 dedicated count centres across the country by the end of the day.

There has been a sharp rise in the number of people registered for postal votes, with 22.5% of the total electorate signed up for them as of December 2021.

This represents a 38.3% increase on the previous year, with the National Records of Scotland saying the jump was “most likely driven by the Covid pandemic”.

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