Household Incomes (Rutherglen)

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 11 January 2024.

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Photo of Clare Haughey Clare Haughey Scottish National Party

6. To ask the Scottish Government how its budget will support household incomes in the Rutherglen constituency. (S6O-02955)

Photo of Shona Robison Shona Robison Scottish National Party

T he heart of our budget is the social contract between the Scottish Government and the people of Scotland. People in Rutherglen will continue to benefit from our long-standing commitments to free prescriptions, free access to higher education and the game-changing Scottish child payment. The Scottish budget commits a record £6.3 billion in social security benefits and payments to deliver on our national mission to tackle inequality. It sets aside £144 million to support a council tax freeze for this year, protecting household incomes across the country.

Photo of Clare Haughey Clare Haughey Scottish National Party

The Scottish Government’s budget ensures that a majority of people in Scotland pay less income tax than elsewhere in the United Kingdom. In the midst of a Westminster cost of living crisis, the budget will freeze council tax, as the cabinet secretary has said, and increase the Scottish child payment. It will also provide the most generous early learning and childcare package across the UK, saving families thousands of pounds each year. Does the minister agree that the UK Government must now step up to protect incomes, and that it should do so by tackling rising food prices, mortgage payments and energy prices?

Photo of Shona Robison Shona Robison Scottish National Party

I do agree with that. Our values-based budget prioritises what matters, supporting people through the cost of living crisis and investing in our front-line public services.

The oversight and regulation of mortgage lenders is a reserved matter. We have repeatedly called on the UK Government to increase support for those who are being most impacted by increasing inflation, interest rates and living costs. In June 2023, Scotland became the first nation in the UK to publish a plan to work towards ending the need for food banks. That includes a new £1.8 million programme to improve urgent access to cash in a crisis. We continue to repeat our calls on the UK Government to provide more targeted support for vulnerable consumers. That includes pressing for the urgent introduction of a social tariff mechanism as a much-needed safety net for priority energy consumers—which, unfortunately, the UK Government has so far chosen not to progress.