The UK Government has been warned they “can’t level up by making people poorer”, amid concerns over a cost of living crisis.
It comes following a rise in energy prices, and ahead of a planned cut to Universal Credit and an increase in national insurance.
At PMQs on Wednesday, deputy prime minister Dominic Raab, standing in for Prime Minister Boris Johnson who is on a visit to the USA to speak with US President Joe Biden, was challenged on the issue.
The SNP’s deputy Westminster leader Kirsten Oswald, standing in place of the party’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford, said that families will suffer because of choices being made by the UK Government.
“Across Scotland and the UK, millions of families are seeing their incomes slashed by this Tory government with a toxic combination of Tory cuts, tax rises and the growing cost of Brexit,” she told the Commons.
“The Prime Minister promised that he would energy bills more than £60 per household cheaper after Brexit.
“Instead, they could skyrocket by £550 at the worst possible time.
“The UK Government is slashing Universal Credit by £1040, furlough is ending prematurely, and a Tory tax hike will leave the majority of families hundreds of pounds worse off next year.
“Let’s be clear, this is a Tory cost of living crisis and yet again, lower and middle income families will suffer the most.
“So, will the deputy prime minister agree with me it is time to scrap Tory cuts to Universal Credit and to introduce an emergency energy payment for lower income families so no-one has to choose between heating and eating this winter?”
Raab insisted that people across Scotland and the UK will benefit from rising employment and rising wages.
He responded: “Can I say to (Oswald), many of those issues are devolved to Scotland.
“The energy price gap will save 15 million households up to £100 each year.
“We’re also taking targeted measures to extend the warm home discount, that will be £150 knocked off the bills of 780,000 homes.
“We’re providing seasonal cold weather payments to eligible claimants, an extra £25 a week during colder periods.
“On top of that, we’re giving a winter fuel payment to recipients of the state pension.
“But the crucial thing is that we’ve got rising employment and rising wages and that will benefit everyone, in Scotland and across the UK.”
Oswald said that the response from Raab was “disappointing and complexing”, urging him to “think again”.
She continued: “Warm words don’t heat homes and unless these Tory cuts are reversed, we will see even more families pushed into hardship and crisis.
“Yesterday, I met with the East Renfrewshire Citizens Advice Bureau. They warned of a cost of living tsunami hammering families.
“A Universal Credit cut, Tory tax hikes, soaring household bills, because of this government’s choices, people are having to choose between heating their homes or feeding their families.
“For all their empty rhetoric, you can’t level up by making people poorer.
“So can the deputy prime minister explain why he is stubbornly refusing to consider introducing an emergency energy payment that would help families through a very difficult winter?”
Raab hit back at Oswald for “scaremongering” and pointed to the British Army providing assistance to the Scottish Ambulance Service following long response times.
He told MPs: “Well, as I’ve said, the price gap in place will save 15 million households up to £100 each year.
“On top of that, because of the approach we’ve taken with the national living wage, full-time workers will be £4000 better off.
“But can I just also say to her, I think given the challenges that we understandably face, people expect, including in Scotland, for us to come together.
“Stop this scaremongering, stop this sowing of division, and that’s why I would have thought she would welcome the fact, with some of the challenges that the Scottish Ambulance Service is facing, that we’ve got the British Armed Forces helping the people of Scotland.”
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