Sarwar calls for emergency cost-of-living bill to be put forward at Holyrood

Katie Neame

Anas Sarwar has called for emergency legislation to be put forward in the Scottish parliament in response to the cost-of-living crisis and accused the UK and Scottish governments of demonstrating a “total lack of ideas and ambition”.

Scottish Labour today set out a plan for an emergency ‘Cost-of-living Act’, including proposals for a winter evictions ban, a rent freeze, cancelling school meal debt and halving rail fares.

The Scottish Labour leader said: “The cost-of-living crisis is a national emergency on the scale of the pandemic – and dealing with it requires both of Scotland’s governments to move quickly and decisively.

“Instead, we’ve seen silence from Boris Johnson and nothing of value from those squabbling to replace him. So while Labour propose a plan that would save families £1,000 on their energy bills, Tories call for tax cuts for billionaires.

“But we’ve also seen little of substance from the SNP, ignoring the significant powers they have to act now. That is why Scottish Labour is calling for emergency legislation to be put before the Scottish Parliament now, as the starting point for a response to help people without delay.”

Scottish Labour is demanding Holyrood pass legislation in four areas to help people with the cost of living: housing, transport, debt and household and business bills.

On housing, the party’s proposals include a temporary rent freeze and a winter eviction ban to prevent homelessness. To support with transport costs, Scottish Labour is demanding that the cost of rail travel be halved and bus fares be capped and is also calling for the creation of an online fuel price checker.

The party has proposed that emergency legislation be introduced to improve debt solutions and has called for increased funding for money advice services. It is demanding that ‘bridging payments’ for children in receipt of free school meals be doubled and that a business hardship fund be established.

Sarwar said: “Our plan sets out areas where Holyrood can act urgently to help people now – and it could be passed as an emergency Cost-of-living Act when the Scottish parliament returns.

“While bills spiral and wages struggle to keep up with inflation, the SNP has the power to help people but they’ve failed to take it. From freezing rising rents to supporting struggling businesses, Scottish Labour is determined to act.

“People across the UK deserve better than two governments trivialising our politics and ignoring the issues that matter, while they bicker. The total lack of ideas and ambition from both our governments has been all too clear.”

The Scottish government announced last week that it would carry out an emergency Budget review in response to the current cost-of-living crisis. Scottish Labour warned today that the review “cannot simply become an exercise in spin”.

The party said the Scottish government must “transparently assess where money can be reallocated and government waste reduced so that all public money is used to alleviate the crisis”.

Business minister Ivan McKee told the BBC that the Scottish government is “having a look at all measures that could make an impact to address the current situation”.

But he declared: “I’m not going to obviously commit just now to government policy. We have got to go through the proper process on that.”

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