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Alex Cole-Hamilton: Governments must do more to tackle cost-of-living crisis

Alex Cole-Hamilton says more must be done to tackle the cost-of-living crisis (Fraser Bremner/Daily Mail/PA)
Alex Cole-Hamilton says more must be done to tackle the cost-of-living crisis (Fraser Bremner/Daily Mail/PA)

The UK and Scottish Governments must “do more to tackle the worst cost-of-living crisis for generations”, the Scottish Liberal Democrats have said as they prepare to launch a parliamentary debate.

The party are using this week’s opposition debate to force a vote on measures to tackle the cost-of-living crisis.

The motion argues that both Governments have not used their powers enough to help struggling families.

Alex Cole-Hamilton, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, has criticised the current limited proposals put in place to tackle rising costs.

British Rail ticket sale
The Scottish Liberal Democrats want train fares reduced as one measure to tackle the cost-of-living crisis (Lauren Hurley/PA)

Both Governments, he said, are taking people “for granted” as both national insurance and council tax increases hit Scottish families.

The party have set out a series of measures to help households, including asking the UK Government to cut VAT to 17.5% – saving approximately £600 to to each family and reversing the national insurance increase.

The Lid Dems have said the Scottish Government should use its devolved powers to reverse the recent 3.8% rail fare hike and instead expand railcard discounts so everyone can benefit from at least one-third off their ticket costs.

The party has also urged the Scottish Government to announce protection for households experiencing council tax rises due to local council budget cuts.

Commenting on the proposals, Mr Cole-Hamilton said: “Scotland is facing the biggest fall in living standards since the ’50s.

“The current proposals set out by the Conservatives and the SNP do not go close to far enough.

“Both parties are taking people for granted; hiking national insurance, council tax and your train fares at the worst possible moment.

“Scottish Liberal Democrats have a clear plan of action to cut bills for you and your family.

“After everything we have been through, Scotland needs new hope. You will only find that hope with the Scottish Liberal Democrats.”

The debate is scheduled to be heard by MSPs on Wednesday afternoon.

Minimum alcohol pricing
Social Justice Secretary Shona Robison. (Jane Barlow/PA)

Shona Robison, the Scottish Government’s Social Justice Secretary, said: “If the Lib Dems want to have any credibility in this debate then they should start by apologising for joining the Tories in government and pushing families into poverty through years of austerity.

“Working together in government, the SNP and Scottish Green Party have delivered record support for families – uprating eight Scottish social security benefits by 6%, increasing the child payment to £20 a week with plans to go further later this year, providing nearly three quarters of all households with a £150 payment, and delivering the most ambitious home energy efficiency programme in the UK to help with the rising energy bills crisis.

“By contrast, the UK Government’s woeful failure to respond seriously to the cost-of-living crisis has seen them increase national insurance and slash universal credit. If the Lib Dems want to be taken seriously, they should back Scotland having the powers to make a difference.”

A UK Government spokesman said: “We understand that people are struggling with the rising cost of living, and while we can’t shield everyone from the global challenges we face, we’re supporting British families to navigate the months ahead with a £22 billion package of support.

“We’re cutting fuel duty, boosting the incomes of the lowest paid through a rise the National Living Wage, saving a typical employee over £330 a year by increasing national insurance thresholds, and providing millions of households with up to £350 to help with rising energy bills.”

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