In a letter to Boris Johnson urging a suggested September meeting be brought forward due to a “fast deteriorating” situation, Nicola Sturgeon said “many people across the UK simply cannot afford to wait until September for further action to be taken”.
The call to bring forward the meeting comes after it was revealed the UK is set to plunge into its longest recession since the financial crisis after the Bank of England on Thursday raised interest rates from 1.25 per cent to 1.75 per cent – the biggest single hike for 27 years.
Regulator Ofgem is expected to push up the cap on household energy bills to around £3,450 in October. The UK will subsequently enter five consecutive quarters of recession as the Bank forecast gross domestic product (GDP) falling by as much as 2.1 per cent by the start of 2024.
The meeting between leaders of the devolved governments and the UK Government would provide an opportunity to agree actions that can be taken now and formulate a plan of action for the long term, Ms Sturgeon said.
The Scottish Government resilience room will convene this week to discuss what steps can be taken to urgently ease the burden on households across Scotland, both now and in the future.
Ms Sturgeon said: “While we will continue to take all actions available to us within devolved responsibilities and budgets – the Scottish Government is investing almost £3 billion this year in a range of measures which will help address the cost-of-living pressures – it is a statement of fact that many of the levers which would make the biggest difference lie with the UK Government.
“It is also the case that only the UK Government can access and make available resources on the scale required. Therefore, actions by devolved governments alone – though important – will not be enough to meet the unprecedented challenges we face.
“Action is needed now to address significant gaps in help for households, in particular those on low incomes, who are increasingly vulnerable to the impact of rising household costs.
“However, it is also vital, given further increases to energy bills due to be announced later this month, that a substantial plan be developed now to avert and mitigate what will otherwise be a crisis of unprecedented proportions – a crisis in which many people will be unable to feed themselves and their families or heat their homes.
“While few will escape some impact of the cost-of-living crisis, these impacts are not being experienced evenly. That is why the focus must be on providing targeted support to those most adversely impacted, rather than an irresponsible reduction in broad-based taxes which will benefit the relatively better off over those most in need.
“The current crisis requires clear, focused and determined leadership and co-operation to develop and deliver – at pace – a package of interventions to protect those most impacted."