Lothian Labour MSP Sarah Boyack warns of 'cost of living crisis'

Lothian Labour MSP Sarah Boyack has warned that families in Edinburgh are staring down the barrel of a pandemic "cost of living crisis".

Lothian Labour MSP Sarah Boyack

She pointed to official statistics showing people are struggling to pay bills and getting into debt – and also highlighted an inflation-busting increase in water charges which is looming.

According to Scottish Government figures, there has been a significant rise in people seeking help with council tax payments over the past year.

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The number claiming Council Tax Reduction soared by more than 10 per cent from 32,920 in November 2019 to 36,340 in November 2020 after having fallen fairly steadily over the previous five years.

Nationally, almost half a million Scots - 497,170 people – were receiving Council Tax Reduction in November due to financial pressures.

Statistics have also revealed that by the end of December 2020, 1,207 people across Scotland had applied for debt moratoria under emergency measures contained coronavirus legislation.

And Ms Boyack said on top of the pressures of council tax and personal debt, millions of Scots were set to be hit by a big rise in water prices, despite Scottish Water and its subsidiaries holding reserves of over half a billion pounds.

The Water Industry Commission for Scotland last month set its charging strategy for 2021-2027 at two per cent above inflation each year to pay for upgrades to crumbling Victorian infrastructure.

Ms Boyack called on the Scottish Government to take action to support families experiencing collapsing earnings and spiralling costs.

She said: “The economic shockwaves of this pandemic have rocked families and households in Edinburgh, with many thousands facing falling earnings and rising costs.

“Make no mistake, the people of Edinburgh are facing a cost of living crisis. It is simply unacceptable that 36,340 people in Edinburgh have been forced to apply for Council Tax Reduction.

“The SNP has been too slow to act to support businesses, protect workers and protect family finances. At the coming budget, Scottish Labour will fight for a fair economic recovery for all that puts the people of Scotland first.

“It’s time to put households and families across Edinburgh at the heart of our economic recovery.”

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