Rishi Sunak said he knows people in Scotland are anxious about keeping up with rising energy bills, as he announced new measures aimed at tackling the cost-of-living.
The Chancellor made a statement to the House of Commons on Thursday setting out steps being taken by the UK Government to help address rising pressures on households.
It included a one-off payment of £650 to low-income households and a temporary windfall tax on profits made by oil and gas giants.
Pensioners will also receive a one-off £300 payment and a one-off disability cost-of-living payment of £150 will be made.
And Sunak insisted that the most vulnerable and least well-off people in the UK will get the support they need.
The timing of the announcement on cost-of-living measures has been met with suspicion, however, that the UK Government is attempting to deflect from criticism following publication of the Sue Gray report.
In his statement to Parliament, Sunak also said that it is “right” that companies making extraordinary profits should contribute to payments via a levy.
“I know that people in Scotland are anxious about keeping up with rising energy bills, which is why today we have introduced measures which will take the support for millions of the lowest income households over £1,000,” said Sunak.
“As a nation we have a responsibility to help the most vulnerable, which is why this support is mostly targeted at people on low incomes, pensioners and disabled people.
“But we understand that all households in Scotland will be concerned about the rise in energy costs this Autumn, so every household is set to get £400 off their energy bills from October, with no repayments necessary.
“It is right that companies making extraordinary windfall profits from rising energy prices should contribute, and I’m introducing a temporary energy profits levy to help pay for this support, while still encouraging the investment that generates jobs in Scotland.”
Scotland’s finance secretary Kate Forbes said that the move to make payments to households is a “good start”.
But, she warned that Sunak would have to come back and provide additional support to families.
“We know that the targeted payments will be of use to Scottish families, but when you’ve got inflation at a 40-year high, when the energy price cap is going up to £2,800, £400 for every household will only scratch the surface,” Forbes told STV News.
“We have an urgent situation with inflation at a 40-year high, we need the Chancellor to offer a comprehensive package.
“I think he’s made a good start, but it’s inevitable that he’s going to have to come back and it’ll need to take more than a Sue Gray report for him to come back and provide additional support to families.”
Forbes added: “Inflation will only rise further, the energy price cap is going to go up further and £400 to every household, plus the targeted help, is a good start, but he’s going to have to come back and it needs to be faster because it’s taken him a long time to get to this point.”
Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross welcomed the “wide-ranging” support package set out by Sunak.
“The interventions from the Chancellor to deliver a wide-ranging package of support is extremely welcome,” he said.
“These payments have been targeted towards those individuals and households who need it most, especially those on low incomes and our pensioners”
Ross added: “Nobody should hesitate to ask for help and I am committed to ensuring the support the Chancellor has announced today makes its way to those who need it as quickly as possible.”
The STUC (Scottish Trades Union Congress) said that measures announced by the Chancellor do not go far enough.
“While the measures announced today are a tiny step in the right direction, they don’t go far enough to address the worsening wages and cost of living crisis,” said STUC general secretary Roz Foyer.
“We have had a decade of stagnating pay, attacks on the social security net we all rely on, and cuts to public services that left people across Scotland living in poverty.
“The extra funding is paltry in comparison to the steeper bills and low wages facing us.”