Scotland is facing the most severe economic upheaval in a generation, which is significantly impacting people, businesses, public services and the third sector across our country.
The Scottish Government has repeatedly urged the UK Government to focus its efforts on those who are most impacted. That did not happen in last week’s mini-budget, which instead caused further economic chaos, which will lead more people into hardship. It is clear that the UK Government does not recognise the scale of the struggle for many households, who are already facing a winter unable to afford essentials such as food and heating their homes.
Since lodging my question, as the cabinet secretary said, the pressures on my constituents have been compounded by the terrifying economic policies of Liz Truss, with the value of the pound plummeting—which adds more cost to all imports, including food—and interest rates skyrocketing. Does the cabinet secretary therefore share my additional concerns for my rural constituents, who were already paying prices that are higher than those in urban areas?
Yes, I do. This morning, I met the Poverty and Inequality Commission and people with lived experience from urban and rural Scotland. People are terrified and angry. We discussed the fact that it feels as though the UK Tory Government has effectively declared war on the poor, with tax cuts for the rich; bankers’ bonuses; inflation and interest rates impacting negatively on costs; going after people who are on universal credit and who are already working; and, now, massive cuts to public sector budgets to pay for all of the mistakes that it made last week.
We need full powers, not just fiscal flexibility, to tackle poverty and protect people from the current cost of living crisis—[
.]. I would not utter a word were I on the Conservative benches, by the way, given the state of the economy and what you are doing to poor people. I do not want to hear anything from those benches today about poor people—not a word. You do not have the right to come here and talk about poor people at all. It is outrageous. Christine Grahame is quite right to highlight what is happening to her rural constituents, but it is happening to everybody across this country and, in particular, to the poor. The Conservatives should be ashamed of themselves.