Years of political and economic failure by both of Scotland’s governments have left people “economically vulnerable”, Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar has said.
The MSP said both the Scottish and UK governments were “not doing anywhere near enough” to support people through the cost-of-living crisis.
It comes as the Office of National Statistics (ONS) conducted research between November 2021 and March 2022 on the impact of the cost-of-living.
The data revealed 30% of Scots were spending less on food or essentials, 31% reported using less electricity and 13% said they had to borrow money – before the April energy price cap increase or national insurance hike came into effect.
Mr Sarwar said the data was worrying given that more than one fifth – 22% – of Scottish households went into the pandemic with no savings, according to the Scottish Household Survey which was last recorded in full in 2019.
And this rose to 34% among households with an income of less than £20,000 per year and to 60% among single parents.
Ahead of the Scottish council elections on Thursday May 5, the Scottish Labour leader said SNP and Conservative inaction was causing a “tsunami of debt”.
He said: “Years of political and economic failure by two incompetent governments left far too many households living pay cheque to pay cheque, with no savings to break their fall.
“For far too long these governments have done too little to tackle hardship and poverty – and even now, when things are worse than ever, they are still falling short.”
And speaking to the PA news agency on Saturday while on the campaign trail in Helensburgh, Argyll and Bute, Mr Sarwar said his party’s plans could save households over £1,000.
Instead, both government’s are turning it into a constitutional fight of Scotland versus the UK, which Mr Sarwar said “is frankly shameful”.
He told PA news agency on Saturday: “They are absolutely making (the cost-of-living crisis) worse.”
He added: I think the people understand the cost-of-living crisis is the number one issue – they can see Labour has put this issue at the forefront of our work over the last number of months.
“We’ve been calling for action about this for a long period of time – well before the cost-of-living crisis started.
“We are demanding action in the UK and the Scottish Government, but alongside that we’re saying councils need to get the basics right around cleansing services, fixing the roads.”
A UK Government spokesperson said: “We understand that people are struggling with rising prices, 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 this financial year.
“That includes saving the typical employee over £330 a year by raising the National Insurance Contribution threshold, lowering the Universal Credit taper rate to help people keep more of the money they earn, and providing millions of households with help to tackle rising energy bills.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said almost £770 million is being invested to tackle the cost-of-living pressures.
The spokesperson added: “We have also taken significant action to support people through our measures to tackle child poverty, including the introduction of the Scottish Child Payment, which doubled to £20 per week this month.
“We have repeatedly urged the UK Government to show the same level of ambition and take urgent action to address the cost of living crisis and provide adequate to support to households in need.”