SNP budget plan would reduce energy bills, boost pay for workers, and deliver a stronger path to economic growth

The number one priority for the UK Budget must be to put money back into people’s pockets – and reverse the Tory cost of living crisis, which has spiralled out of control.

Scotland is one of the wealthiest and most energy-rich countries in the world. Yet, after thirteen years of Tory cuts, Brexit damage and economic mismanagement, many families across the UK are struggling to get by.

Those on the lowest incomes are falling into poverty and debt in order to pay for basic necessities like rising rents, energy bills, food shopping and children’s clothing.

Even those on middle incomes are feeling the squeeze – as the cost of mortgage rates, childcare and everyday goods soar through the roof on Westminster’s watch.

Faced with the bleak reality of growing hardship and inequality, the Tory government can’t continue to just sit on its hands as more people fall into poverty and destitution.

The SNP has put forward a five-point plan for the UK Budget, which would reduce household bills, boost the pay of millions of workers, and deliver a strong path to sustained economic growth.

The first step to protecting incomes is to cut energy bills. The Chancellor can save households £1,400 immediately by reducing the Energy Price Guarantee by 20 per cent to £2000, and by continuing Energy Bill Support Scheme (EBSS) payments through to the summer.

With energy companies making record profits, and the wholesale price of gas falling by 75% from its peak, there is no excuse for failing to act.

Indeed, research by the Resolution Foundation shows the Chancellor will have £30billion extra headroom to spend. This money must be used to cut – not just freeze – energy bills, and to contribute towards the cost of increasing public sector pay and benefits in line with inflation.

Finally, the UK government must use its reserved powers to introduce a Real Living Wage for all workers – and to abandon regressive Tory plans to accelerate the state pension age to 68.

People are sick to the back teeth of being ripped off by this Tory government – and in a UK Budget that is all about choices, it’s high time the Chancellor finally sided with ordinary families, instead of lining the pockets of the wealthy.

That means making fairer choices to deliver this vital cost of living support, which can be funded by introducing a levy on share buybacks, scrapping non-dom tax status and expanding the windfall tax.

It also means getting serious about growing the economy. Under the Tories, the UK economy has spent more than a decade in the dumps – stuck in a vicious cycle of low economic growth, stagnant wages and rising inequality.

Worse still, that long-term damage and decline is here to stay under the broken economic policies of the Tories and pro-Brexit Labour Party. Bloomberg Economics research shows Brexit is costing the UK £100 billion a year in lost output, the OBR has forecast a 4% hit to GDP, and the IMF predicts the UK will be the only major economy in the world to shrink in 2023.

Neither Keir Starmer or Rishi Sunak are being honest with voters about the devastating impact of Brexit – and neither have a credible plan for growth, when they both back the biggest cause of long-term decline.

In contrast, the SNP couldn’t be clearer that the best way to secure sustained economic growth is to rejoin the EU, get back into the world’s largest single market, and match the world-leading investment that Europe is delivering to turbocharge renewable energy and green growth.

At the Budget on Wednesday, the Chancellor must take urgent action to reverse the damage his Tory government has caused over the past decade. But with no sign of any real change from either of the main Westminster parties, it’s increasingly clear that Scotland’s best route to a strong, fair and prosperous future is back in Europe as an independent country.