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

The First Minister welcomed moves by UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak to help people cope with soaring energy bills, but insisted they did not go “far enough”.

Energy bills are set to soar 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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Meanwhile, inflation is set to hit an eye-watering 7.25 per cent.

Picture: Russell Cheyne/WPA Pool/Getty Images

Mr Sunak announced a £200 discount on energy bills from October, which will have to be paid back over the next five years at £40 per year.

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

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

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 Finance Secretary Kate Forbes previously announced local authorities in Scotland will be handed an extra £120 million in a bid to avoid “inflation-busting” council tax hikes.

Following Mr Sunak’s announcement, she tweeted: “I’m shortly meeting the Chief Secretary [to the Treasury] to hear more about today’s UK Gov announcement on additional funding, which echoes what I said to Scot Parl last week – that we’d been told there would be additional consequentials (hence why we could allocate a further £120m to local gov).

“I’ll have more info in due course but as the First Minister said we’ll ensure that we use consequential funding to mitigate the cost of living in Scotland.”

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.

“The SNP has no excuse to avoid passing on this funding boost from the UK Government to working people across Scotland.”

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.”

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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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