The Scottish Government will not be able to mitigate all of the effects of the cost of living crisis, social justice secretary Shona Robison has said.
Rising inflation, stagnant wages and the increase of the energy price cap last week have led to fears of people across the UK being pushed into poverty.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a £2bn package of support, which will include a repayable £200 discount and a £150 rebate on council tax bills, with the funding also producing consequentials for the Scottish Government.
Nicola Sturgeon assured MSPs the government would spend “every single penny” on mitigations.
Giving evidence before Holyrood’s Health, Social Care and Sport Committee, Robison admitted the Scottish Government would have to focus its interventions, which she said would be announced “in short order”.
“Will we be able to mitigate every part of the cost of living impact? I don’t think we can on a fixed budget,” she said.
“But what we can do is make sure our support is targeted at those who are most in need.”
Her comments come as net-zero secretary, Michael Matheson, told the BBC there was a “real risk lives will be lost this year”.
Robison went on to say: “Our response has to be as targeted as it can to help those most impacted.
“I really fear for the ability of people to keep their heating on, put food on the table.
“So I think the support that we have already been focusing on – but will look to do more – has been really to try to make sure we help those that need it most.”
When asked what discussions were ongoing within government on how to spend the consequentials sent from Westminster, the minister said “discussions are still ongoing”.
“Those plans will be set out in short order in terms of how we will support families and various options are being looked at but the starting point is how can this have the biggest impact on those who are most in need,” she added.
“We have also called for things we think would have the biggest impact. We think a cut in VAT on energy bills would be one of the most simple ways of helping energy consumers in the short term.
“I think there are other levers that could be used more effectively.”
The comments come as major oil and gas companies are coming under criticism for reporting massive profits as the price of energy is set to increase for consumers with BP announcing a £9.5bn profit last year.