PUBLIC sector workers across the UK have made huge sacrifices in their living standards over the last seven years.

In 2010, David Cameron entered Downing Street on a promise of sorting out the economy and slashing the deficit.

Across the world, Governments have two levers to cut deficits: slash spending, and raise taxes.

The Tories, forever dreaming of a smaller state, always preferred to target public expenditure over raising revenues, particularly from the rich.

A key plank of their austerity agenda was to make public sector pensions less generous and keep a lid on pay rises.

The 1% public sector cap was initially considered necessary by many voters, but it has now become a regular fixture of Government policy.

In Scotland, the SNP Government could be forgiven for reluctantly following suit in the early days. Ministerial tax powers were blunt, limited and unsatisfactory.

However, as a result of the Smith Commission, Holyrood gained sweeping powers over income and property taxes.

Unlike in previous years, the Scottish Cabinet can now steer a different course on a range of policy areas and fund progressive choices by raising taxation.

On Tuesday, the First Minister will make a real progressive choice by ditching the 1% pay public pay cap and giving public sector workers a more generous rise.

Other than being the right move in itself, lifting the cap is also good politics. The SNP Government has stagnated in the last twelve months and it needs to find its mojo again by adopting a series of bold policies. The SNP’s managerialism may be a good way to run a bank, but it is not an inspiring way to run a country.

This paper has often said that while the SNP talks the progressive talk, it often fails to walk the progressive walk - and for a long time we have called on the party to take bold strides.

Given that the momentum for a second independence referendum has stalled, the Government has an excellent opportunity now to use its tax and spending powers to the max. As a paper which supports independence, we want to see the SNP prove it can be transformative in government, so that floating voters will be convinced that independence will change their lives for the better.

In the forthcoming budget talks, Ministers should also heed cross-party calls to raise child benefit by £5 a week, thus slashing child poverty levels.

How should these policies be paid for? The Government should increase the top rate of tax to 50p and apply it all to income over £100,000. Ministers should also consider raising the 40p rate.

Many progressive Yes voters have been attracted to Corbyn's fairness agenda, and Sturgeon needs to raise her policy game to tackle this. Ending the 1% pay cap is an excellent start, and it is to be applauded.