Cost of living: Scottish Government must ‘turn over every stone’ to release cash for more support
The Scottish Government must “turn over every stone” to release additional cash to support those struggling with the rising cost of living, a group of ten charities has said.
Acknowledging the Scottish budget is “stretched”, the charities said there is “no greater priority” for government than ensuring people can afford to heat their homes and eat this winter.
The group has called for the doubling of “bridging payments” for families in receipt of free school meals, paying a one-off payment to recipients of the Scottish Child Payment and council tax reduction, doubling winter heating assistance and boosting the Scottish Welfare Fund.
It has also urged the two candidates to be Prime Minister to commit to doubling household support.
In a letter to the First Minister, the charities said: “We believe if the Scottish Government were to take this action – hopefully complemented by further support which we, in concert with our colleagues across the UK, will continue to lobby for from the UK Government – this would help significantly ease the pressures which households face over the winter.
“It would be targeted at those who needed it the most and while the cost is not insignificant to the Scottish Government, it pales when compared to the potential impacts on individuals, and the knock on impacts on public services, of no further support being available.”
The letter has been signed by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Save the Children Scotland, Energy Action Scotland, Trussell Trust Scotland, the Robertson Trust, CPAG Scotland, the Poverty Alliance, the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations, One Parent Families Scotland and IPPR Scotland.
They added: “While we understand, and in many respects share, your view that the UK Government must play the lead role in responding to this crisis, it is still incumbent on your government to continue to do the right thing and take all actions necessary to help people in Scotland be able to keep food on the table and their houses warm this coming winter.”
They are also calling on the government to avoid “aggressive collection of public sector debts and arrears”, labelling it “counter-productive” and likely to cause further anxiety to struggling families.
The Scottish Government has started to chair a weekly resilience committee to continually assess the impact of rising bills.
Nicola Sturgeon said that while her government will “do everything within our resources and powers to help those most affected”, the majority of relevant powers and resources were reserved to the UK Government.
She has written to the UK Government calling for more action.