Sturgeon warns UK facing 'escalating emergency' over cost of living

The First Minister compared the scale of the crisis to that of the Covid-19 pandemic.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon warns UK is facing ‘escalating emergency’ on cost of living STV News

The UK is facing a “rapidly escalating emergency” over the cost of living, Nicola Sturgeon has warned.

A Scottish Government Resilience Meeting was chaired by the First Minister on Thursday, as she said the crisis is on a “similar scale” to the coronavirus pandemic.

Boris Johnson has been urged to set out immediate further measures to help those struggling.

However, he has ruled out taking fiscal decisions ahead of his successor in No 10 being named next month.

At the Scottish Government’s meeting, ministers assessed the current situation and the likely scenarios in the months ahead.

Among a number of immediate actions agreed, ministers pledged to undertake an emergency budget to assess “any and all” opportunities to redirect additional resources to those most in need.

The Government said that it will “consider urgently” all options within devolved powers for regulatory action to limit increases in costs for people, businesses and other organisations.

And ministers have also promised to bring together energy firms, banks and food retailers to examine what further help can be provided to limit cost increases.

The Resilience Committee is to meet on a weekly basis for the “foreseeable future”, the Government stated, in order to oversee and direct progress on the actions set out.

The Government has also called on UK ministers to immediately double the direct financial support already provided, to cancel the forthcoming increase in the energy price cap, and to bring in a further windfall tax.

Sturgeon warned that the emergency will cause “acute deprivation and suffering” if urgent action is not taken.

“It is clear that the UK currently faces a rapidly escalating emergency that goes beyond simply the cost of living and is now a more general cost of everything crisis,” she said.

“This emergency may be of a different nature to the Covid-19 pandemic, but it is on a similar scale.

“In the absence of substantial and urgent action, this emergency will cause acute deprivation and suffering. It will affect access to practical necessities for millions of people across the UK. Bluntly, it will cost lives.”

The First Minister insisted that the Government will do “everything within our resources” to help those most affected by the crisis.

“To illustrate the severity of the situation, the Scottish Government estimates that, even with current UK Government mitigations, at least 700,000 households in Scotland – 30% of all households – will be living in extreme fuel poverty by October,” Sturgeon said.

“That number could be even higher, if the Ofgem price cap for October 2022 is above £2,800. 

“It is essential, therefore, that the response from government at every level is commensurate, in scale and speed, to the nature and magnitude of the emergency.

“In developing a response, governments must first and foremost address immediate need. We must all focus on supporting individuals, businesses and jobs by addressing the principal root causes of the problem.”

The SNP leader added: “Scottish ministers are clear that the powers and resources needed to tackle this emergency on the scale required – access to borrowing, welfare, VAT on fuel, taxation of windfall profits, regulation of the energy market – lie with the UK Government. This is reflected in the actions we have proposed and set out today.

“At the same time, the Scottish Government will continue to do everything within our resources and powers to help those most affected.”

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