The UK has a “zombie government” which is “nowhere to be seen” as people across the country struggle more and more with the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, the Scottish Labour leader said.
Anas Sarwar said he had “struggled to contain his anger” in the face of inaction from Westminster.
Ministers there have insisted it is for the new prime minister, who comes into office on September 5, to bring in measures to help those facing hardship as a result of rising prices.
With the energy price cap due to rise to more than £3,500 in October, Mr Sarwar, said the governments at both Westminster and Holyrood had a “moral duty to act”.
He hit out at the UK Government, saying: “I have struggled to contain my anger over the last week as we have seen Ofgem make these announcements on the new price cap and the government being a zombie government, nowhere to be seen and people in absolute despair across the country.
“Where the hell is our government? They should be out there right now cancelling this increase and making sure we are supporting families across the country.
“And they should also be giving more support to businesses who have no cap at all, meaning lots of businesses will go bust, unemployment will go up, families get pushed in destitution.”
Mr Sarwar, speaking on The Sunday Show on BBC Radio Scotland, continued: “This is a crisis moment and both our governments have a moral duty to act.”
Labour is among the parties demanding the UK Government “immediately cancel the increase” in the energy price cap.
But Mr Sarwar added that Nicola Sturgeon’s Scottish Government had “powers and responsibility too”, as he said Labour at Holyrood was pushing for emergency cost-of-living legislation to be brought in.
This could be used to cap rail and bus fares, freeze rents and prevent evictions, Mr Sarwar said.
We’re talking about basic rights here, the right to nutrition and to be safe and warm, and so government needs to do a lot more to make sure that supports are available
Scottish Children's Commissioner Bruce Adamson
Bruce Adamson, the Children and Young People’s Commissioner for Scotland, also insisted “urgent action” was needed from all levels of government.
Mr Adamson has already warned energy regulators at Ofgem that the rise in the cap will see more families “pushed into poverty and destitution with devastating consequences”.
Speaking about the current situation facing families, he told BBC Radio Scotland: “We’re in a real crisis. It requires urgent action at all levels of government.
“Anyone who has got any level of power needs to be thinking about how they can use their powers in the most effective way and use the resources they have most effectively.
“We’re talking about a rights issue and in the most extreme we’re talking about the lives of children.”
Commissioner has written to @Ofgem questioning the decision to raise the energy price cap without properly considering impact on children. More families in🏴will be pushed into poverty & destitution with devastating consequences. Letter & media release:https://t.co/rBNKhT2SSj pic.twitter.com/x72aJ8dQn1
— Children and Young People's Commissioner Scotland (@CYPCS) August 24, 2022
He insisted it was a human rights issue, saying: “We’re talking about basic rights here, the right to nutrition and to be safe and warm, and so government needs to do a lot more to make sure that supports are available.”
The £400 rebate on energy bills already promised by the UK Government was “nowhere near enough”, the children’s commissioner said.
Instead, Mr Adamson stated: “We need urgent action from the UK Government, the Scottish Government, from local authorities, everyone who is in a position of power needs to act immediately, because this isn’t affecting just a small number of children and families, this is affecting every single child in Scotland.”