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REFLECTIONS - UK TORY GOVERNMENT IGNORES COST OF LIVING IN KING’S SPEECH

King Charles delivered his King’s Speech where traditionally the monarch outlines UK Government priorities for the coming year.


Sadly, the ongoing cost of living crisis was mentioned only once, with no policies or plan for how the UK Tory Government intends to address it. This, despite millions across the UK struggling to make ends meet.


A study published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation two weeks ago found that 3.8 million UK citizens, including one million children, struggle to meet their most basic needs.


This study highlighted that nearly three-quarters of those in poverty receive social security payments, emphasising how UK welfare support is wholly inadequate at mitigating the cost-of-living crisis.


Many people are spiralling deeper into poverty and understandably need something better.


No household should struggle to keep warm of be inadequately housed, yet that’s the shocking reality for millions across the UK. That the UK Tory Government does not adequately support not just its most vulnerable citizens but also many working families and pensioners is appalling, and damning proof that the difficulties many endure is of little concern to the Tories.


An example is the Local Housing Allowance which calculates the maximum amount people renting from a private landlord can claim in Housing Benefit or Universal Credit. This has led to a situation where only 8% of private rental properties are affordable in Scotland. In parts of England, such as Cornwall or London it’s zero.


Thankfully, Scottish National Party (SNP) The Scottish Government policies such as the Scottish Child Payment and Scottish Welfare Fund have helped mitigate a rise in poverty across Scotland.


There was nothing in the King’s Speech to reduce energy bills. It’s anticipated that households will struggle more to stay warm this winter than last, yet the only energy legislation mentioned was the Offshore Petroleum Bill, which aims to bolster the oil and gas industry.


At a time when a record number of households are in fuel poverty, the UK Government has proposed nothing to tackle this issue, while, by its own admission, it “wouldn’t necessarily bring down energy bills.


The End Poverty Coalition and Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) highlighted that greater investment in renewable energy would help.


Scotland already has a strong renewable sector, as evidenced in 2020 when we produced enough renewable energy to power all Scottish homes for three years. We also produce six times more gas than we consume, yet, around half of Scots aged 55-64 live in fuel poverty. The SNP is calling on the UK Government to devolve to the Scottish Parliament powers over energy to enable us to alleviate fuel poverty and ensure Scotland’s people benefit from living in an energy rich country.


The ongoing cost of living crisis should have been at the forefront of UK Government priorities in the King’s Speech. Instead, it focused on policies that do nothing to improve the lives and wellbeing of millions.


Scotland deserves a government that cares for its people’s needs. Until we regain our independence from Westminster, we will continue to suffer its negligence.



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