THE referendum offers a choice between a future of cuts to public services or new opportunities, according to Nicola Sturgeon.

The Deputy First Minister, on a referendum tour, is warning voters a no vote will lead to a huge cut in Scotland's budget and public services stretched even further than before.

The Glasgow Southside MSP said independence can also guarantee Scotland stays in the EU, while the rest of the UK is at risk of withdrawal with UKIP pushing the political agenda in England.

On the other hand she said independence offers the chance for Scotland to shape a new future.

She said: "As the referendum date gets closer, the campaign has crystallised into a choice between two futures for Scotland.

"On the one hand there is the dismal prospect of Scotland being locked in to Westminster's damaging austerity agenda which would see Scotland's public services stretched as never before as funding cuts bite ever harder.

"Or there is the choice of a Yes vote to create new opportunities for Scotland.

"With a Yes vote we will be able to invest more in boosting economic growth - and protect Scotland from the danger of being dragged out of Europe by Westminster politicians dancing to UKIP's agenda."

Ms Sturgeon said the UK Government will cut £4bn from Scotland's budget with further spending cuts and the possibility of an end to the Barnett Formula, which sets Scotland's share.

She warned even devolved services like health are at risk as an overall budget cut affects the services under the control of Holyrood.

Ms Sturgeon added: "Perhaps most importantly of all, with a Yes vote we will be able to continue to protect Scotland's NHS from the damage caused by the privatisation agenda that is wreaking havoc on the NHS in England."