'Scottish Government should not be commentators during energy crisis', says Anas Sarwar

The Scottish Labour leader has said the Scottish Government has powers and responsibilities to improve the energy situation for many households across the country.

Mr Sarwar said he has struggled to contain his anger over the last week following the price cap hike as he added “Where the hell is our government?”

Talking about the council strikes, Mr Sarwar said he supports a flat rate similar to what workers are getting in England to “target support” for the lowest earners.

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Both the Scottish Labour leader and Keir Starmer are in “unanimous agreement” that there will be no coalition between Labour and the SNP, according to Mr Sarwar as he said there is a current “interim arrangement” between Labour and SNP in Dumfries and Galloway.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar (Photo: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire).
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His comments come after OfGem announced the energy price cap will result in the typical household energy bill reaching £3,549 a year from October 1.

Speaking to BBC’s Sunday Show, Anas Sarwar, Scottish Labour leader, said: "They should be out there right now cancelling this increase and making sure we are supporting families across the country and they should also be giving more support to businesses who have no cap at all meaning lots of businesses will go bust, employment risks going up, families getting pushed into destitution. This is a crisis moment and both our governments have the moral duty to act. So we are making a demand on the UK Government that they immediately cancel the increase that would save families over a £1,000.

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"We need more support for businesses and whilst I accept that the big part here is for the UK Government that would also help bring down inflation which helps with pay disputes but what I’m saying to the Scottish Government is yes make demands of the UK Government but recognise you aren’t commentators in a crisis, you have powers and responsibilities too and that’s why we’ve proposed an emergency cost of living act.”

The Act proposed by Scottish Labour looks at bringing down the cost of commuting by having rail and bus fares capped, introducing a winter eviction ban and freezing rent prices as well as writing off school meal debt.

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Tracy Black, CBI Scotland director, said both governments need to step in to prevent business from closing and to encourage economic growth.

Ms Black said: “Raw materials have become more expensive, freight costs are more expensive so there’s real pressure on businesses and it’s not set to get better over the coming months.

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CBI Scotland has asked the government to commit to business rate freezes and flexibility in paying loans with a pandemic loan scheme expanded.

The body has also asked for the industrial energy transformation fund to be expanded to help businesses use less energy and help households with bills.

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Mr Sarwar wants to impose a windfall tax to use “record profits” made from energy companies to put “money back into people’s pockets”.

Defending the introduction of windfall tax after critics suggested this would cut investment in renewables, Mr Sarwar said he does not “buy it”, adding: “They would still make the investment because these companies if they want to survive recognise they have to transition to a green future but secondly the windfall tax we are talking about is on the unexpected profits as a result of the crisis.

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"I think anyone looking at the pay increases these bosses are getting, looking at the profits these companies are making...no one can see any justification for not having a windfall tax.”

He added: “The Scottish Government has over £200 million of un-allocated money already as a result of partly reserves but also increased tax receipts they’re expecting. That alongside a meaningful budget review where we cut government waste, cut the pet projects and the wasting of tens if not hundreds of millions of pounds and let’s put everything we can into support families across the country.”

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