The Scottish Government has announced the publication of its Emergency Budget Review to provide further relief to those affected by the cost of living crisis, as well as helping to contain budget pressures caused by rising inflation and economic uncertainty.
The Emergency Budget Review for 2022-23 outlines how £335 million worth of funding will help support a range of initiatives to help people with increased living costs. This includes doubling the Fuel Insecurity Fund, doubling the Child Bridging Payment to £260, and a £1.4 million Island Cost Crisis Emergency Fund. The latter will provide assistance to island households as they manage higher energy costs.
Other steps include:
- Supporting local authorities in the delivery of Discretionary Housing Payments.
- The establishment of a joint taskforce to bring together business, COSLA, local authorities and agencies, to consider the diverse impact of regulation on businesses.
- Offering energy advice to businesses, through an investment of £300,000 to expand Business Energy Scotland’s services. This coincides with the doubling of the SSME energy efficiency Loan and Cash Back Scheme for energy efficiency to £20,000.
- The creation of new payment respite options to support those who have made arrangements to pay off debt through the Debt Arrangement Scheme, but face unexpected increases in the cost of living.
Savings of £615 million have also been identified by the Scottish Government to enable the improvement of public sector pay offers, while maintaining a means of compliance with the responsibility to balance the budget. This follows the announcement of £560 million worth of savings on 7 September.
John Swinney, Deputy First Minister, said:
“There has never been a time of greater pressure on public finances.
“Today’s Scottish Government budget is £1.7 billion less than when it was published last December. At the same time, the need for government support and intervention is evidently increasing as we continue to try to fund increased public sector wage claims, especially for those on the lowest incomes.
“These savings are not what we wanted to do, but in the absence of additional funding from the UK Government, we are left with no alternative.
“We must balance the books while prioritizing funding to help families, restore business, provide fair pay awards and to protect the delivery of public services. This Emergency Budget Review delivers on these goals. ”