The SNP has warned that many more households are at real risk of being pushed into poverty and hardship unless the UK government urgently delivers a meaningful package of support – including turning the energy bill loan into a grant – to properly tackle the growing Tory cost of living crisis.
The call for action comes after new analysis from Citizens Advice Scotland found that an estimated 640,000 people – around one in seven – are finding their household energy bills unaffordable due to low incomes, with the figure set to increase due to the energy price hike announced yesterday.
Citizens Advice Scotland also said that almost half a million people in Scotland “have had to cut back on food to deal with unaffordable bills” – and that is before the impact of the energy price hike announced yesterday, which will see average bills rise by nearly £700 annually.
Separately, the Ofgem price hike was followed by a Bank of England forecast that predicts real household disposable income to fall by 2 per cent – the largest fall on record and equivalent to an average £1,000 income loss for families across the UK.
The Chancellor’s response to the crisis was met with criticism, with the Scottish Trades Union Congress stating that the Treasury’s £200 ‘buy now, pay later’ loan “comes nowhere near tackling the problem” and that “it is nothing short of shameful that people are being forced to choose between food and heat.”
Commenting, the SNP’s Shadow Chancellor Alison Thewliss (pictured) said:
“Unless the UK government heeds the warnings and takes serious action through a meaningful package of measures – including turning the energy bill loan into a grant – then it risks letting the growing cost of living crisis spiral completely out of control.
“New research by Citizens Advice Scotland that around 640,000 people are finding their energy bills unaffordable and that almost half a million Scots have had to cut back on food to deal with bills must serve as a wake-up call for the UK government.
“People are already struggling to make ends meet and are being forced into the grim position of having to choose between eating and heating.
“The reality is that many more households are at risk of being pushed into poverty and hardship unless the UK government acts now with real support – not sticking plaster measures.
“It’s no secret that the Tory government is too engulfed in scandal to get on with the day job, but it must step up to the challenge by delivering a real package of support, including introducing a major energy grant, reversing its cuts to Universal Credit, matching the Scottish Child Payment UK-wide, and bringing forward a Real Living Wage.”