Nicola Sturgeon vows cost-of-living support will be ‘front and centre’ of Programme for Government

Support to tackle the cost-of-living crisis will be “front and centre” of the Scottish Government’s plans for the next year, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

The First Minister will lay out her government’s legislative agenda for the year ahead when Holyrood returns on Tuesday and the Programme for Government will be published.

The announcements come during a period of high anxiety for Scots as energy bills and household costs are on the rise.

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But the First Minister also hit out at the UK Government, which she claimed was in “hibernation” as a result of the ongoing Tory leadership contest, with the winner due to be announced on Monday before taking office the following afternoon.

Nicola Sturgeon will lay out her government's legislative agenda for the year ahead when Holyrood returns on Tuesday
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“On Tuesday, the Scottish Government will publish its Programme for Government for the year ahead, and tackling the cost crisis will be front and centre of our plans,” Ms Sturgeon said in a statement.

“The steps we outline this week will build on the actions we have already taken with the limited powers of the Scottish Parliament to support household budgets, such as the Scottish Child Payment, the Carers Allowance Supplement and the Council Tax Reduction Scheme.”

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She added: “However, the key levers in this crisis remain in the hands of the Tories at Westminster – a Government which has been in hibernation over the summer as the Tory faithful choose who will be the fourth prime minister in six years.

“Their inaction has caused huge anxiety for families and huge uncertainty for businesses. It has been a dereliction of duty which people will neither forgive nor forget.

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“At this most crucial of times, we are in the situation of announcing our plans for the year ahead in an unprecedented cloud of Westminster uncertainty.

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“We don’t know if and when an emergency budget may happen, whether Scotland’s block grant is going to be cut this year, or what other measures they may introduce – all of which could fundamentally affect our plans.”

The First Minister will seek to “work constructively” with the next prime minister, despite having traded attacks with both Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak throughout the campaign.

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She also claimed an independent Scotland could have passed an emergency budget, adding: “Instead we are left wrestling with meeting the challenges of fair pay, household hardship and rising costs for public services without the tools we need to tackle them.”

On Saturday, the Scottish Conservatives said the First Minister’s administration had failed to deliver on at least 26 policy pledges from last year’s Programme for Government.

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The Tories said the “most glaring failures” included protecting police funding, provide free school meals for all primary school pupils and treatment standards to tackle drug deaths.

Meanwhile, Scottish Labour MSPs are urging the Scottish Government to drop the “summer of empty rhetoric” by introducing emergency legislation which tackles the cost-of-living crisis.

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Neil Bibby, the party’s business spokesperson, is urging parliamentarians to back a Cost-Of-Living Act.

It comes as inflation hits 10.1% and is expected to soar further. Meanwhile, the energy price cap has risen by 80% to £3,549.

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The party intends to move a motion calling for parliamentary time to be set aside in the first week to introduce the emergency policy.

It would see a temporary rent freeze to protect tenants from rising prices and ban winter evictions to limit homelessness.

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Labour also proposes changes to laws on debt, including fairer rules on earnings arrestment and bankruptcy fees.

Mr Bibby, Scottish Labour business spokesperson, said: “After a long summer of empty rhetoric from the SNP, this is a chance to take real action.

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“We cannot ask people struggling to put food on the table to listen to a talking shop of empty ministerial statements and debates that go in circles.

“Scots expect their Parliament’s to be focused on the issues that matter and their governments to use every power they have – but both the SNP and the Tories are asleep at the wheel.

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“We have a moral duty to act – every part must back these plans to use the powers we have here in Holyrood to freeze rent, ban winter evictions, and offer a lifeline to those snowed under with debt.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said it remained the case “that most of the key policy levers are held by the UK Government, which needs to take urgent action.”

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“We recognise the enormous pressures households are facing, which is why the First Minister has committed to an emergency budget review to assess all opportunities to target additional resources and respond to those pressures,” the spokesman said.

“Our Programme for Government next week will set out the Scottish Government’s priorities, including for the immediate challenges around the cost crisis.

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“We have allocated almost £3 billion in this financial year that will contribute towards mitigating the increased costs crisis, including the provision of support unique to Scotland, such as the Scottish Child Payment.”

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