Cost of Living Crisis

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at on 8 September 2022.

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Photo of Anas Sarwar Anas Sarwar Labour

We need to go further than a freeze. Let me be clear: getting more passengers on our railways potentially makes money for our railways, and changing people’s pattern of behaviour by getting them out of private vehicles and on to our railways helps us to confront not only the cost of living crisis but the climate crisis. I push the First Minister to be bolder and more ambitious, because this is not a time for timidity or delay. Our “Emergency Cost of Living Act” included a rent freeze and a winter eviction ban—we welcome the Scottish Government’s action in that regard—but it also included halving rail fares, capping bus fares, a £100 water bill rebate, writing off school meal debts, topping up the Scottish welfare fund and establishing a business hardship fund to keep small businesses going.

I know that the First Minister will say that the Scottish Government has to find the money. That is why I welcome an emergency budget review, but it has to be an open, genuine and transparent one. Therefore, in recognition of the national emergency, the Scottish Government should open up the books to all parties so that we can have a team Scotland approach to actually using the powers of this Parliament to confront the cost of living crisis and help people here, in Scotland.