FMQs: Nicola Sturgeon pledges to pass on ‘every penny’ from council tax rebates


The First Minister said moves by UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak to help people cope with soaring energy bills do not go far enough.

Energy bills are set to rise by 54 per cent for 22 million households from the beginning of April, adding £693 to the annual bills of a typical household.

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Scotland to receive extra £290 million as Rishi Sunak unveils plan to help with …

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Mr Sunak announced a £200 discount on energy bills from October, which will have to be paid back over the next five years.

Homes in England will also get a £150 council tax rebate for properties in bands AD.

The UK Government estimated Scotland would receive an extra £290 million of Barnett funding as a result of this.

Speaking at First Minister’s Questions, Ms Sturgeon said: “I’ve not heard all of the detail because he was still on the seat as I came into the chamber, but the Chancellor has just announced what sounded like welcome steps to help mitigate [the rising price cap]but steps that, in my view, do not go far enough.

“They seem to offer around £350 of help against energy bill increases of around £700.

“I also don’t yet know what the position on consequentials will be, but I give a commitment here that – assuming there are consequences, which I would expect there to be – every single penny of them will go in Scotland to helping people deal with the cost-of-living crisis.”

SNP energy secretary Michael Matheson raised concerns the majority of the measures announced by Mr Sunak “are not sufficiently targeted to provide support to those who need it most, and that the proposed £200 rebate is too little too late, applying six months after the coming price rise in April”.

He said: “This serves only to delay, rather than solve, the very real and growing cost-of-living crisis.”

Mr Matheson said analysis estimates the price cap increase “could move a further 211,000 households in Scotland into fuel poverty in the coming months”.

Finance secretary Kate Forbes previously announced Scottish local authorities would be handed an extra £120m in a bid to avoid “inflation-busting” council tax hikes.

Scottish Conservative finance spokeswoman Liz Smith insisted the council tax rebate in England must be matched “pound for pound”.

She said: “Rishi Sunak and the UK Government have taken a big step toward tackling the cost-of-living crisis with these measures. Now the SNP must act urgently.

“The new money for Scotland must be passed onto local councils and the tax cut matched pound for pound.”

Scottish Labor leader Anas Sarwar said: “The SNP have refused to use the powers of this Parliament to top up Winter Fuel Payments.

“They have refused to back Labour’s windfall tax on energy companies. And they have refused to stop rises to rail fares and water charges.”

He added: “People are struggling right now. The First Minister must stop commentating on the cost-of-living crisis and start doing something about it.”

Labour’s deputy leader Jackie Baillie urged the Scottish Government to bring forward proposals outlining how it will spend the consequentials next week.


www.scotsman.com

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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