UK government must bring forward emergency Budget to tackle spiralling 'Tory cost-of-living crisis', says Ian Blackford
The SNP Westminster leader is urging the Chancellor to implement a “meaningful” package of measures to boost household incomes, warning that current proposals "won't even scratch the surface and are nowhere near enough to help families cope".
The MP – who last week was ordered to leave the House of Commons after saying Prime Minister Boris Johnson “misled Parliament” – said: "The UK government is failing to get a grip of the Tory cost-of-living crisis, which is spiralling out of control and will leave the majority of families hundreds – or thousands – of pounds worse off.
"This Westminster crisis has been a decade in the making, with a toxic combination of Tory cuts, regressive tax hikes, stagnant wages, poor economic growth, and the soaring cost of Brexit resulting in squeezed household incomes and rising poverty across the UK.”
The UK government is pressing ahead with a rise in national insurance, which in April is set to rise for one year by 1.25 percentage points.
That month will also see many households’ energy bills soaring, with those on their supplier’s default tariff paying by direct debit facing a £693 annual energy bill rise, and prepayment customers will see an increase of £708.
Mr Sunak announced a £200 discount on energy bills from October, which will have to be paid back over the next five years. He also unveiled a £150 council tax rebate for properties in England in bands A-D. As the council tax system is devolved, the UK government estimated that Scotland would receive an extra £290 million of Barnett funding.
But Mr Blackford said “pitiful” measures announced by the Chancellor “won't even scratch the surface”, adding: "The £200 'buy now, pay later' loan must be turned into a grant, the £1040 Tory cuts to Universal Credit must be reversed, the Scottish Child Payment must be matched UK-wide, and pay must be increased with a Real Living Wage,” the SNP politician said.
"Under the Tories, the UK already has the worst levels of poverty and inequality in North-west Europe and the highest in-work poverty this century. If they fail to act now, it will only get worse.
"While the SNP government is tackling poverty by doubling the Scottish Child Payment to £20 a week, the Tory government is actively undermining Scotland's progress by cutting Universal Credit by £20 a week and failing to act on the cost of living.
"A decade of damaging Westminster decisions has hammered household budgets. Whether it's the benefits freeze, the bedroom tax, the two-child cap, £9k tuition fees, or the National Insurance tax hike – the Tories have made millions of people poorer.
"For every step Scotland takes forward in tackling poverty, Westminster drags us back again. The full powers of independence are the only way to keep Scotland safe and eradicate poverty."
Scottish Finance Secretary Kate Forbes will this Thursday confirm how much extra money households in Scotland will receive to deal with the cost-of-living crisis, saying she will ensure that "every penny is out the door to support households and families in need".