FMQs: Nicola Sturgeon challenged to 'use the powers you have' to help tackle energy price crisis

Anas Sarwar has demanded the Scottish Government use around £41m of additional funding from Westminster to pay for additional fuel payments over the winter

During First Minister’s Questions, the Scottish Labour leader challenged Nicola Sturgeon to use the expected £41m of funding due to Scotland to pay for an £70 fuel payment for those receiving certain benefits.

The funding is expected as consequentials from a recent UK Government announcement of £500m to support vulnerable household over winter, however the First Minister criticised Mr Sarwar for backing Westminster while the planned cut to Universal Credit goes ahead.

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Ms Sturgeon also said Labour lacked “credibility” on the issue until they join the SNP’s calls for additional financial powers for Holyrood.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar challenged Nicola Sturgeon to use Holyrood's powers to help people facing a cost of living crisis.

Raising the case of a 90 year old pensioner who starved to death and the 200,000 estimated pensioners who live in fuel poverty in Scotland, Mr Sarwar said “warm words are cold comfort” if the SNP do not back the £70 payment.

Labour said the proposal would cover those on pension credits, receiving a council tax reduction, or receiving child winter payment assistance and would cost just over £46.5m at most to provide more than 660,000 people with the additional cash.

Responding, Ms Sturgeon claimed that the Scottish Government would back such a move if it had additional financial powers.

She said: “This government and any government in the Scottish Parliament is simply unable to continue, week after week, month after month, year after year, mitigating the impact of reserved policies from a limited and finite devolved budget.

"It is simply not possible without hitting the devolved responsibilities that we have responsibility for.

"We can’t just wish the ends, we have to give this parliament the means to do it.”

However this was rejected by Mr Sarwar who accused the SNP leader of “soundbites”.

He said: “We do have means and we should use the means we have.

“Let’s use the powers we have to change people’s lives in the here and now because this is urgent.

"People are facing rising costs today, energy bills will rise tomorrow, people need help now.

"We can’t dither and delay when families need that reassurance, the Scottish Government has the power to do something about it.

"We know the additional £41m is on its way and families need to know that support is on its way too because warm words will be cold comfort for people who risk suffering this winter.”

Ms Sturgeon responded by saying “every penny” of the consequentials received would go to low income families and challenged Mr Sarwar to find the money for the £70 uplift in the Scottish budget, adding she assumed it was “over and above” the £41m from the UK Government.

She said: “This cost of living crisis is being caused by UK Government decisions that they are taking within their reserved powers.

"We can’t go on raiding a finite devolved budget to mitigate the impact of those, we need to these powers out of the hands of UK Governments and into the hands of this parliament.

"And as long as Anas Sarwar prefers keeping these powers in the hands of Boris Johnson, he will not have the credibility he wants to have in this chamber.”

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