Keir Starmer condemns Scottish and UK Governments over ‘pittance’ of help

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Families struggling with the cost-of-living crisis are being offered a “mere pittance” of help from Governments in Holyrood and Westminster, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said.

He hit out at both the UK Conservative Government and Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP Government in Edinburgh, insisting there was “so much” more that they could be doing to help hard-pressed households.

Boris Johnson’s Government is dominated by “instability, uncertainty and chaos,” Sir Keir said.

Meanwhile, he complained that the Scottish Government had “no plan that goes beyond another referendum”.

This, the Labour leader added, would bring “more uncertainty and more division just at the time we need to bring people together, particularly post Covid”.

He spoke out on the cost of living crisis as he addressed business leaders at a CBI Scotland event in Edinburgh – arguing that the “consequences of Government inaction are hitting businesses very, very hard”.

Sir Keir said: “Millions of families are finding life more difficult than ever. There’s so much that both the UK Government and the Scottish Government could be doing.

“There’s so much that they should be doing, but instead they offering a mere pittance, or in some cases nothing at all.

“To many people are having to make the choice between heating and eating, and that isn’t just a political phrase, that is for real. Children are going to be cold or hungry or both.”

Local government elections
Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar has been backed by the leader of the UK party (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Hitting out again at Ms Sturgeon’s administration, he said: “Too often the Scottish Government claims to be stronger for Scotland but then it talks about what it can’t do, rather than what it can do.

“My approach would be different. I am determined to build a new partnership with business, to meet the challenges not just of today but of the next decade and beyond.”

Labour governments in Edinburgh and London would also result in policies that could see struggling Scots get help worth more than £1,000, he pledged.

Sir Keir told the audience that “as a first step, a Labour government (in London) would introduce a reduction on energy bills by up to £600 for those hardest hit by the prices”.

Meanwhile, he said Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar had “proposed using the powers of devolution to offer a fuel cost payment, along with a water rebate and a cut to rail prices”.

As a result he said: “Labour in government in Edinburgh and London would mean more than £1,000 for people struggling to make ends meet”.

His comments came as he argued there needed to be a “new partnership between Labour and business”.

Making a direct pitch to businesses, he insisted Labour had “always been the party of work, the party of working people, the party of jobs and growth”.

But he added: “Without thriving business, we can’t deliver jobs and growth.”

He told the business leaders: “I want to assure you under my leadership our party understands that.

“We see businesses as a force for good, the only way we can deliver those jobs and that growth.”

Sir Keir insisted that persistent low growth was the “Achilles’ heel of our economy”.

He added: “Our economy today is not as dynamic, competitive, or profitable as it needs to be.”

Recent forecasts have suggested Britain could have the worst economic growth within the G7 group of developed nations next year, along with the highest inflation.

This, the Labour leader warned, will see costs rise for businesses as well as impacting on the “very real cost of living crisis”.

But he insisted: “There’s a different way of leading Britain. I know we can remake our economy and our country in a new Britain.”

Sir Keir said: “I am determined to build a new partnership with business, to meet the challenges not just of today but of the next decade and beyond.”

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