SNP ministers accused of 'shameless spin' over cost of living help

SNP ministers have been accused of “shameless spin” after claiming to have allocated almost £3 billion in this financial year to help families and households face the cost of living crisis.

The Scottish Government highlighted support for energy bills, childcare, health and travel, as well as social security payments “not available anywhere else in the UK”.

But the impartial Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) said much of this relates to “long standing commitments that go back very many years”.

In a blog post, it said: “All of the policies listed [by the Scottish Government] do help reduce costs for families and households in some way.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

"But a list of measures announced specifically in response to the current increase in inflation would be quite a bit shorter.”

Some of the policies highlighted by the Government date from before the SNP came to power in 2007.

The single most expensive – at around £1 billion – is for increasing funded early learning and childcare, which has been government policy since 2014.

The SPICe analysis said: “Of course it’s useful to set out how government policy reduces people’s costs but by that measure, you might include the entire social security system, the NHS and a lot more.”

There are widespread concerns over the rising cost of living and soaring energy bills

It said policies introduced since the start of the cost of living crisis in October 2021 total around £490 million.

Scottish Conservative social justice spokesman Miles Briggs said: “This analysis exposes the truth behind the SNP Government’s misleading claims about the support it is offering hard-pressed Scots during the global cost-of-living crisis.

“Less than one-sixth of the £3 billion they claim they are providing is actually new funding.

"It’s shameless spin by SNP ministers to claim pre-existing spending as part of their supposed support package.”

Labour MSP Neil Bibby said: “Not only is this SNP-Green coalition completely failing to tackle the cost of living crisis, they are now having to try to take credit for policies implemented by the Labour government nearly two decades ago.

“This desperation throws 15 years of nationalist failure at Holyrood into sharp relief.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Within its limited budget, the Scottish Government has allocated almost £3 billion in this financial year alone to help families and households face the increased cost of living.

"As recognised in the report, Scottish Government policies are helping households both immediately through targeted support and helping weather the current crisis a little bit more easily such as increased access to free childcare, baby boxes, prescriptions, travel and social security payments not available anywhere else in the UK including the Scottish Child Payment.

"This reflects how we have recognised the pressure on family budgets for some time and have responded by implementing changes to support them.

“Westminster holds most of the powers needed to tackle the cost of living crisis and child poverty. We have continually urged them to use all the levers at their disposal and provide immediate support to struggling households.”

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