Cost of Living Crisis (Impact on Poverty)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 6th October 2022.

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Photo of Paul McLennan Paul McLennan Scottish National Party

1. We heard at First Minister’s question time about a report by the University of Glasgow and the Glasgow Centre for Population Health that says that, due to Tory austerity, 20,000 more deaths than expected were recorded in Scotland in an eight-year period. We want to avoid similar excess deaths in the future.

To ask the Scottish Government what recent engagement it has had with the United Kingdom Government regarding the impact of the cost of living crisis on poverty levels in Scotland. (S6O-01428)

Photo of Shona Robison Shona Robison Scottish National Party

I share the member’s concern—concern was also expressed by the First Minister—about that shocking report.

The First Minister and the Deputy First Minister have made repeated calls for immediate action to support households. Following the UK mini-budget, the Deputy First Minister has again written to the chancellor seeking a reversal of the damage that was inflicted on people who are already bearing the brunt and having to choose between going hungry or being cold.

We will continue to use the limited powers and finite budget that are available to mitigate the impact of actions that undermine our efforts to tackle poverty, and to press the UK Government for targeted support for householders and businesses, increases to social security and greater financial powers and resources.

The report to which Paul McLennan referred obviously looks back to the previous period of austerity. It is frightening that we could see that repeated—and more so—in a new era of austerity, which, of course, we want to avoid.

Photo of Paul McLennan Paul McLennan Scottish National Party

There is no doubt that UK Government policies are adding huge pressures on people who are already struggling to stay afloat.

Does the cabinet secretary share my frustration that, although the Scottish Government does all that it can to help people, the reality is that there is a limit to what can be achieved without the full fiscal and borrowing powers that the UK Government has?

Photo of Shona Robison Shona Robison Scottish National Party

I share that frustration. Although the decisions of the UK Government continue to push people into hardship, we have allocated almost £3 billion from our fixed budget—a budget that is worth £1.7 billion less than in December due to inflation.

The harsh reality of a fixed budget is that every pound that we spend to help with rising costs has to be funded by reductions elsewhere. That is why it is vital that this Parliament should have the full powers to tackle poverty and the cost of living crisis, and to support those in need.