'Cost-of-living crisis' is exposing just how bad SNP and Tories are at running the country – Ian Murray MP
What does it actually mean?
I popped into Morrisons in Gilmerton last weekend before Scotland’s magnificent Calcutta Cup win at Murrayfield for a few items and bumped into a constituent who was very concerned about rocketing energy prices. A concern shared by most.
He put this crisis better than any politician has managed, saying: “Everything is going up apart from my wages.” He is spot on, that’s a better way to describe it.
With families across the country anxious about how they are going to pay the bills and keep food on the table, it is well beyond time for the UK and Scottish governments to act.
At a time when pay packets already need to stretch further, the Tories’ hike to National Insurance contributions and the SNP’s approval for rises to water rates and rail fares, alongside forcing councils to raise Council Tax, will heap yet more pressure on wallets.
Across Scotland, people will be wondering where they are going to find the extra £693 to keep the heating and lights on; just months after bills rose by an average of £139.
They will look at rising travel costs, water charges, Council Tax and food bills and wonder why they are paying the price for government inaction.
They are left to foot the bill because Scotland has two bad governments which would rather play politics with the crisis than take action.
More than a fifth of households in Edinburgh are in fuel poverty, which is the stark reality of government policy.
In the SNP, we have a government lacking in ambition and failing to use the powers and cash available to them.
SNP ministers have refused to use their powers to top up winter fuel payments.
They have refused to back Labour’s windfall tax on energy company excess profits. They have refused to stop rises to rail fares, water charges and council tax.
People are struggling right now, and governments must act to get money into their pockets.
Labour is calling on the Tories to implement a one-off windfall tax on the excess profits of the oil and gas industry and to cut VAT on energy prices. It’s not right for oil CEOs to talk of “momentous” years and energy being a “cash machine” while too many are having to decide to heat or eat.
Unfortunately, SNP MPs objected when it was put to a vote in Westminster, exposing their nonsense claims about standing up for Scotland.
In addition to Labour’s fully costed plan at Westminster, we need to see immediate action from Nicola Sturgeon.
She could deliver targeted support for the hardest-hit Scots by providing a £400 Scottish fuel payment to those in need, roll-out a top-up to the Scottish Welfare Fund, cancel price rises for water charges and rail fares, fund councils properly to prevent Council Tax rises, and back long-term solutions to keep bills low.
That’s what Anas Sarwar will unveil in a five-point plan today. These are all things within Holyrood's power. Only this meaningful action proposed by Labour will keep Scots protected from some very difficult months ahead.
Ian Murray is Labour MP for Edinburgh South