Union demands FM support over cost of living 'humanitarian crisis'

The Scottish Trades Union Congress has proposed a raft of reforms to help tackle the skyrocketing cost of living.

Union demands meeting with Nicola Sturgeon in bid to tackle cost of living ‘humanitarian crisis’ STV News

A trade union has demanded a meeting with Scotland’s First Minister and set out demands for tackling the cost of living crisis.

Launching the Scotland Demands Better campaign, the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) has set out demands for the Scottish Government, including increasing public sector pay, rent controls and wealth taxes.

The organisation, along with the Poverty Alliance, has written to Nicola Sturgeon calling for a roundtable meeting to help implement the plans.

The campaign also calls for increased social security payments, doubling the Scottish Child Payment and increasing Carer’s Allowance payments.

Issued ahead of the SNP’s conference this weekend, the letter reads: “The demands represent the voices of our communities.

“Following our cost of living crisis summit earlier this year, we heard from those at the acute end of this humanitarian emergency.

“From increasing public sector pay, accelerating rent controls and increasing taxation on wealth – in addition to the other steps outlined – the Scottish Government has the powers to create positive and meaningful change for those experiencing entirely avoidable destitution.

“With the recent energy prices increase, in addition to the calamitous aftershocks of the UK Government’s recent fiscal statement, we stand ready to realise the demands of our People’s Plan for Action. We seek your government’s support in doing so too.”

STUC general secretary Rozanne Foyer said: “This campaign represents the voices of our communities.

“Governments cannot abandon them in their hour of need and we’re seeking an urgent meeting with the First Minister to directly support workers impacted by this crisis.

“The People’s Plan for Action sets out exactly what we need to see from the Scottish Government.

“Whilst Westminster remains unwilling and uncaring to help ordinary workers, the Scottish Government must take a different path.

“Increasing public sector pay, accelerating rent controls and implementing wealth taxes gives Scotland’s poorest the lifeline they need to survive this emergency.

“Poverty and destitution are political choices. Scotland demands better than the devastation and hardship wilfully inflicted upon our most in need.”

Peter Kelly, director of the Poverty Alliance, said: “We want to put justice and compassion back at the heart of public life in Scotland – so we can build support for practical action to tackle poverty.

“With this plan, we can start to rebuild and renew our social security, boost incomes for workers, invest in the public services we all rely on, and give people the urgent help they need with rocketing costs.

“This crisis is a moment for decision for all of us – and especially our politicians. We can create a better Scotland where poverty is a thing of the past.”

Social justice secretary Shona Robison said: “We are aware of the hardship that so many people are facing during this cost of living crisis.

“Most of the key policy levers needed to address the crisis still lie with the UK Government so we continue to urge them to use all the levers at their disposal to tackle this emergency on the scale required to meet the needs of people. The impact of their recent actions in the mini-budget remain of deep concern.”

Robinson pointed to the Scottish Government’s almost £3bn sum this financial year to help households face the increased cost of living, which she said includes £1bn in providing services and financial support not available elsewhere in the UK.

“This includes the Scottish Child Payment – one of five family benefits – which we doubled in April and will increase to £25 next month when we extend it to under-16s, representing a 150% increase within eight months,” she said.

“However, the inflation that people feel in their pockets affects our budget too – it is now worth £1.7bn less in real terms than it was last December.

“We have also had to make hard choices to find around £500m in savings to meet the increased costs of public sector pay and to provide support to those who need it most, while balancing public finances. Both the right choices to make, but it has meant hard choices.”

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