Liz Truss must step up and act on the Tory cost-of-living crisis now

Liz Truss has just been elected as the new Tory leader and is about to become Britain’s fourth Prime Minister in six years.

During a Tory leadership contest completely detached from reality, neither candidate has presented a real plan to help people cope with skyrocketing costs – and the meagre support offered by the UK government so far doesn’t even scrape the surface.

Households and businesses need the Westminster government to get a grip and use its reserved powers to take immediate and radical action to tackle this crisis. Here’s what they must do.

Call an emergency budget and freeze the energy price cap

Right now, food insecurity and utility bills are skyrocketing. With the current Prime Minister absent from the job and the new Prime Minister takingย  some time to settle, more families are falling into poverty.

There can be no more delays โ€“ it is time to act.

The very first act of the new Prime Minister must be to instruct their new Chancellor to deliver an emergency budget.

The energy price cap increase cannot go ahead.

If it does, the consequences will be catastrophic for millions of households and businesses.

The new Prime Minister’s Government must freeze the energy price cap as a priority.

After heavy pressure from the SNP and the opposition parties, the Tories have already U-turned on their ยฃ200 energy loan policy โ€“ doubling it to ยฃ400 and turning it into a non-repayable grant instead.

Bills have gotten significantly higher since then, so it’s incumbent on the new Prime Minister’s Chancellor to at least double the energy support payments.

Tackle the UK’s rising poverty rates

Through their actions and policies, the Tories have made it clear that they are the party of cash to the rich and cuts to the poor.

The new Prime Minister can choose to make a different decision than spending cuts.

They can choose to finally admit the damage their austerity agenda has caused and announce measures to tackle the rising child poverty rates across the UK.

They must immediately reinstate the ยฃ20-a-week Universal Credit uplift, putting over ยฃ1000 a year back into the most vulnerable families’ pockets while extending the uplift to legacy benefits.

Scrapping cruel policies such as the two-child cap, the benefit cap and the appalling bedroom tax.

They must also increase the reserved social security payments given to individuals, just as the Scottish Government has done with our limited powers at Holyrood.

An equivalent to the game-changing Scottish Child Payment must also be introduced UK-wide.

Finally, they must bring in a Real Living Wage for families across the UK. Prices are soaring, and bills are going up โ€“ right now, people are desperate for a wage that can adequately support them through this crisis.

Give businesses the support they desperately need

It can be easy to forget the widespread misery this cost-of-living crisis is causing.

Many small family businesses, the backbone of our economy, are battling rising home energy costs and the energy costs of keeping the family business open.

Unlike household energy bills under the energy price cap (which merely caps the profits at 1.2%), there is no such cap on the price a business must pay for an energy bill.

So far, the UK government has done nothing to help businesses that see energy bills rising by 400% or more for gas and electricity.

Upon taking office, the new Prime Minister must immediately bring in an energy price cap for businesses, scrap VAT on fuel, and reintroduce the 12.5% VAT rate for leisure and hospitality businesses.

If not, they must devolve the powers to the Scottish Parliament so that we can support our business sectors through this crisis.

With independence, Scotland wouldn’t have to wait for a Westminster Tory government asleep at the wheel

Regardless of whoever occupies Number 10, it is becoming clearer by the day that Scotland needs more than a change of Prime Minister or a reprieve from Westminster’s chaos, incompetence, and democratic deficit.

We need the permanent alternative of independence.

Scotland’s potential is held back as Westminster’s key economic levers remain.

Westminster’s political choices, implemented by Tory governments we haven’t voted for since 1955, are making us poorer.

Only with the full powers of independence can we build a better society and make better choices.

Scotland will have that choice.