Devolved governments unite to demand action on ‘cost of living crisis’

Finance ministers from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland call on UK Government to 'urgently intervene' and help households.

Devolved governments unite to demand action on ‘cost of living crisis’ iStock

The UK Government is being challenged to “urgently intervene” and help households struggling with rising bills.

Finance secretary Kate Forbes joined her counterparts in Cardiff and Belfast in calling for a plan to tackle what has been dubbed the “cost of living crisis”.

Their plea followed a meeting with Chief Secretary to the Treasury Simon Clarke.

Finance ministers from the three devolved nations also reiterated their calls for extra funding to respond to the Covid pandemic to be provided when needed and not just when additional assistance is provided in England.

Forbes said: “People are facing a cost of living crisis and the UK Government, which reduced the lifeline Universal Credit uplift in October despite our representations, must now urgently intervene.”

“It is not tenable for funding only to be triggered by public health decisions in England. A system is required that supports the decisions of each devolved administration.”

She also said ministers in Scotland had “set out a range of ambitious actions”, such as plans to double the weekly payment that goes to low income families to £20, but stressed Holyrood had “limited resources”.

It comes after inflation across the UK rose to 5.1%, with households also facing higher bills for food and transport.

A HM Treasury spokesperson said: “The UK Government has worked closely with the devolved administrations throughout the pandemic and continues to do so, including via the meeting of the Finance Ministers Quadrilateral today.

“The UK Government’s £400bn Covid support package has supported people, businesses and public services in all parts of the UK, and in December we have just made £860m of additional funding available to the devolved administrations to help them respond to the challenges presented by Omicron.

“We would encourage the devolved administrations to use this funding to provide the urgent support needed across Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

“We also recognise that people are facing cost of living pressures, which is why we’re taking £4.2bn of decisive action to help.”

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