This week, I received a report from the Citizens Advice Bureau (Scotland). In it featured a cost-of-living crisis analysis which left me despairing.
Their headline analysis stated that the cost-of-living crisis has driven higher demand for their energy advice service, has pointed to a clear link between higher energy bills and food insecurity, that this cost-of-living crisis will lead to a legacy of debt, which has long-term socioeconomic consequences, and that there remains a risk that so-called ‘forgotten populations’, ie groups of people that often wouldn’t be in a position to request or seek financial support, are suffering.
I have seen and heard first-hand from you, my constituents, that the cost-of-living crisis is having a hugely detrimental impact on important areas of life, such as on your financial wellbeing and mental health.
It is my nature, and, I believe, the nature of my party, to want to help and support every single constituent, every single person of this nation, in any which way that is required. I have faith that the steps my party have taken to mitigate the detrimental impact of the cost-of-living crisis are just, fair, and impactful.
The SNP have introduced a new social security system that provides 13 benefits, 7 of which are only available in Scotland.
This included an increase to the Scottish Child Payment to £25 per week, per eligible child – five times the original amount that campaigners called for, and a 150% increase in just one year.
We are tackling food poverty by expanding free school meals, and the SNP is working on proposals to extend that across high schools. And, the innovative Best Start Foods is making it easier for parents to afford nutritional foods for their young children.
It can easily sound trite when a politician points people in the direction of their own party’s successful policies, but I am genuinely proud of the progressive work of the SNP.
These policies are not just celebrated by elected members of the SNP, either. Many charities have labelled the Scottish Child Payment as a game changer, and a recent report from the Child Poverty Action Group shows that our policies are having a positive impact, reducing the financial challenges of families with children across Scotland.
What’s more, universal free school meals throughout primary school make the cost of bringing up a child £1,700 cheaper than before we introduced this policy, whilst free bus travel saves £3,000 pounds in the lifetime cost of a child in Scotland compared to England.
This is testament to the work our party is doing to look after our citizens.
The cost-of-living crisis is manifestly linked to the rise in energy costs. Yet, of course, we all know that the failure of the Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng premiership crashed the damaged plane into the mountain.
Fuelled by Trussonomics, rising energy costs have been a result of the increase in the price of wholesale gas. Electricity bills have risen due to the coupling of the gas and electricity supply. And, the way the UK’s energy system works means that over half of our electricity is supplied by gas-powered generators.
But you should not be paying the emotional and financial price that you are paying today. The price of wholesale gas today is cheaper than it was on this date in 2022.
Data shows that there was a potent hike in the price of wholesale gas around September 2022, but that increase fell drastically, before a further spike over winter, which has decreased once again.
However, your energy bills are nowhere near reflective of the market price of wholesale gas. Instead, your bills have increased and have remained at an inflated price.
Yet, in the distance, energy companies still retain their momentous, record-breaking profits.
Scotland is rich with renewable sources of energy: wind and hydro power are resources that, if properly utilised, would drastically change the scope of Scotland’s energy consumption.
There is, of course, a positive and necessary environmental aspect to pivoting to a reliance on renewable energy, but there is a key benefit to consumers, too. That is, to produce and supply renewable energy is cheaper than to produce and supply energy which requires gas as a component. If energy is cheaper to produce and supply, then the price at which it is consumed is lowered.
Hence, it pains me that the energy sector is regulated by arms of the UK Government and that energy is a reserved power at Westminster because they are walking through this crisis with ignominious ignorance.
Westminster parties do not understand Scotland’s rich offerings, nor do they have a clue how to best utilise them. In fact, I doubt that they have really given it much thought, although I note that Keir Starmer has recently prophesised that Scotland’s energy commodities could fund a freeze to council tax in England, which is what we all really need.
During this cost-of-living crisis, it has never been clearer to me that the offerings on the table from the Labour and Tory Westminster benches are not, and will never, be suitable for our country. Whilst energy companies are making literal billions every quarter, you, at home, are the one's suffering the consequences of their inaction. The lack of regulation, the lack of taxation, has worsened your situation, and that responsibility lies with Westminster.
Labour and the Conservatives have proven that their sole interests lie in stoking culture wars, in out-Brexiting one another, and in introducing repugnant policies that aim to limit the freedom of, and exposure to, inter-cultural relations.
On 16th May this year, my Westminster colleagues held an opposition day debate on the cost-of-living crisis. During this debate, not one single Labour backbencher spoke, whilst only one Tory backbencher mustered up enough courage to face the reality they have created.
This is pure evidence of the fact that both Labour and the Conservatives at Westminster do not care about, or at least consider, what is impacting on Scotland’s constituents at all.
For further evidence, look at the website of the Conservatives. Their homepage is littered with posters promising to stop asylum seekers entering the UK whilst asking for your money.
On Labour’s home webpage, they have a few pictures of Keir Starmer. Nothing much else, which is entirely in-keeping with his mysteriously absent policy agenda.
Compare that to the SNP’s homepage. You will find a list of policies that we have introduced to support Scotland, with explanatory articles to accompany them. Have a look: https://www.snp.org/
There is only one party that is working for the people of Scotland and that party is the SNP.