On Tuesday, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon outlined her plan to help manage soaring household bills, including bringing in emergency legislation to introduce a rent freeze for both the private and socially rented sectors. She also said rail fares on ScotRail – which was brought into public ownership earlier this year – would be frozen until at least March 2023. Speaking ahead of her statement in Holyrood, she said the Scottish Child Payment had doubled to £20-per-week in April and would rise again to £25 in November.
But Ms Sturgeon is still planning to push ahead with plans to hold a second referendum on Scottish independence on October 19, 2023 – a move that is being strongly resisted by new Prime Minister Liz Truss.
Now Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross has warned the last thing Scotland needs is for the SNP-Green Government “to waste time and money on a self-serving push for another divisive independence referendum”.
He has demanded Ms Sturgeon scrap her “reckless” £20million war chest earmarked for IndyRef2 and instead use it to help ease the cost of living crisis, particularly for vulnerable families and individuals.
Mr Ross said: “No one should be under any illusions about how tough the coming winter will be for people across the country, primarily because of soaring global energy costs.
“It’s essential that both the UK and Scottish Governments work together to help ease the unprecedented burden on household budgets.
“I know it will be the top priority of the new Prime Minister to add to the £37billion in support already provided by the UK Government. But the Scottish Government must do its bit to help too and have a laser-like focus on the cost-of-living crisis.
“The last thing Scotland needs right now is for the SNP-Green government to waste time and money on a self-serving push for another divisive independence referendum next year. It is entirely the wrong priority at the worst possible time.
“Nicola Sturgeon should drop this reckless plan and reallocate the £20million earmarked for it in the form of an extra £200 payment to families receiving for the Scottish Child Payment.
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Unveiling her cost-of-living plan in Holyrood on Tuesday, the First Minister also urged his replacement Ms Truss – who is expected to unveil her own plan this week – to freeze energy bills.
Ms Sturgeon said: “In what is perhaps the most significant announcement I will make today I can confirm to Parliament we will take immediate action to protect tenants in the private and in the social rented sectors.
“I can announce that we will shortly introduce emergency legislation to Parliament. The purpose of the emergency law will be two-fold.
“Firstly, it will aim to give people security about the roof over their head this winter through a moratorium on evictions.
“Secondly, the legislation will include measures to deliver a rent freeze.”
She added: “The Scottish Government does not have the power to stop your energy bills soaring, but we can and will take action to make sure that your rent does not rise.”