Nicola Sturgeon has said she fears “the worst is yet to come” in the cost-of-living crisis.
Speaking at the STUC Congress in Aberdeen, the First Minister told trade unionists the rising cost of living was hitting the poorest in society hardest.
In recent months, rising inflation, along with an increase to national insurance contributions and the biggest spike in energy prices in living memory, has stoked fears of an impending crisis.
“What is being experienced right now, and I fear the worst is yet to come, is more severe than most of us have ever known in our entire lifetimes,” she said.
“This crisis is hitting hardest those who are already most in need and it will push many people over the poverty line.
“No society that values fairness and basic decency should passively accept the poverty and misery this crisis is causing.”
The First Minister reiterated her opposition to the spring statement given by the Chancellor last month, where Rishi Sunak announced a 5p cut to fuel duty, the doubling of the Household Support Fund to £1 billion and a plan to cut the basic rate of income tax from 20p to 19p by the end of the current parliament.
“Last month’s spring statement from the UK Government was, in my view, such a disappointment – it totally failed to address what is a growing and an increasingly acute emergency.”
But Ms Sturgeon went on to say she recognised the responsibility the Scottish Government has to help.
“I accept and acknowledge without equivocation the big responsibility on the shoulders of me and the Scottish Government I lead – we have a duty, and it is a duty and a heavy responsibility to do all we can.
“We have done so and will continue to do so.”
A UK Government spokesperson said: “We understand that people are struggling with rising prices, and while we can’t shield everyone from the global challenges we face, we’re supporting British families to navigate the months ahead with a £22 billion package of support this financial year.
“We are saving the typical employee over £330 a year by raising the National Insurance Contribution threshold and we have introduced the largest ever single increase in the National Living Wage, while lowering the Universal Credit taper rate to help people keep more of the money they earn.
“We are providing millions of households with up to £350 to help with rising energy bills and providing the Scottish Government with £290 million as a result of the Council Tax rebate in England, on top of the record £41 billion settlement at the Spending Review – the highest amount since devolution.”
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