New Chancellor must take urgent action to tackle cost-of-living crisis: Swinney

·2-min read

Scotland’s Deputy First Minister has outlined key measures the UK’s new Chancellor can take to “urgently” address the cost-of-living crisis.

Kwasi Kwarteng was selected for the top role by the new Prime Minister Liz Truss on Tuesday.

A raft of measures to combat the cost crisis is expected to be announced by the new Government, including freezing energy prices.

Now John Swinney has urged Mr Kwarteng to meet with him “as soon as possible” to discuss “priority issues”.

In a letter to the new Chancellor, Mr Swinney said: “You appointment comes at a time when citizens and businesses across the UK face incredible challenges, with the cost crisis continuing to spiral out of control.”

The Scottish Government set out its Programme for Government on Tuesday, outlining measures such as an emergency rent freeze to alleviate pressures felt by tenants.

Liz Truss becomes PM
New Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng is facing pressure to announce cost-of-living support (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

But Mr Swinney told Mr Kwarteng that his government need support from Westminster due to Scotland’s limited fiscal powers.

Key actions set out by the Perthshire North MSP include targeting support to low-income households and those negatively impacted by spiralling costs, such as unpaid carers, larger households and disabled people.

And the package of support recommended by Mr Swinney suggests uprating all social security benefits in line with inflation, providing a £25 uplift to universal credit and introducing an enhanced windfall tax to raise additional revenue.

Mr Swinney wrote: “In order to urgently address the crisis faced, it is clear that the UK Government must intervene and use reserved powers and financial resources to support our citizens and businesses.”

He added: “The Scottish Government has taken substantial action to ameliorate the unprecedented adversity that our citizens face, however, we are limited by the devolution settlement and our fixed budget in what we can do.

“Most of the key policy levers that can address this crisis sit with the reserved powers of the UK Government.

“Given this context, I ask that you urgently cancel the proposed increase in the energy price cap in October.

“This course of action is supported by energy companies and advice organisations and came to the fore in a recent meeting hosted by the First Minister.”

A Treasury spokesman said: “We know that rising prices are impacting people across the UK, and as the Prime Minister has said, we will set out plans for further support to Scottish families with energy costs tomorrow.

“We have already taken action to help households with £37 billion worth of support throughout the year, including £1,200 for eight million households, £400 for all households to help with energy bills, and a national insurance cut worth up to £330 a year for the typical employee.

“We have also provided the Scottish Government with a record £41 billion settlement for the next three years and it has significant control over taxes and benefits.”