SNP and Tories are plunging thousands into poverty and failing on climate change – Ian Murray MP
During the pandemic, the most vulnerable members of society have faced unimaginable hardship.
The UK government is now forcing working people on the poverty line to chose between heating and eating this winter because of a quadruple whammy set to hit living costs.
Families are facing rising energy and food prices, an end to furlough and, at the end of this month, a £1,000-a-year cut to Universal Credit.
The government had the audacity to say there’s no question of lights going out this winter, but the lights will be out for some as the energy crisis bites. People should be in no doubt that the bleak winter ahead is down to the Tory’s policy decisions.
Poverty is a political choice, and both the UK and Scottish governments’ records on poverty are disgraceful.
Had the government brought the energy supply sector into public ownership (something they may now be forced to do), not given us a botched Brexit, and taken action to ensure work really did pay, instead of leaving millions reliant on Universal Credit, the situation would be looking somewhat less dire.
As the fifth richest country in the world, this pandemic has shown us we have the money to spend, so when 800,000 more people are close to being plunged into poverty, why won’t they cough up?
Nights are growing colder, bills are mounting up and money is running out.
Some 150,000 families in Scotland now face an increase in National Insurance, while receiving that £1000 cut to their incomes at a time when energy and other prices are rocketing.
Wholesale gas prices are more than five times what they were two years ago, and the government seems to be burying its head in the sand. How can you resolve a crisis when you deny it even exists?
But there is a crisis and it’s a result of fundamental government failures to plan, leaving the country exposed and vulnerable with businesses and consumers paying the price.
They are hellbent on pursuing social and economic ruin, and it’s completely disappointing to see the SNP unwilling to use their powers to make different political choices for Scotland.
For 18 months, we have seen some of the lowest paid in society step up to the plate. Now our governments must do the same.
Labour have been calling on the SNP to quadruple the Scottish Child Payment, a key policy lever available to the Scottish government that would secure people’s incomes and take a weight off the shoulders of many.
It’s quite remarkable that a party keen on marketing themselves as progressive is refusing to pull levers to lower poverty.
The UK and Scottish government must come together to not only save people from the harsh winter ahead, but deliver energy solutions that work for people and planet.
In 2017, Nicola Sturgeon promised a public energy company which would help protect families from rising bills, yet four years on it’s just another broken SNP promise. They could start by investing in new interconnectors to take renewable electricity from the islands to the mainland.
The people of Scotland deserve better than governments willing to plunge them into poverty and unwilling to save them from the climate crisis. It’s time for action, otherwise, what is government for?
Ian Murray is Labour MP for Edinburgh South