Sturgeon welcomes ‘belated’ energy bills plan but warns costs will still soar

Nicola Sturgeon Credit: PA Images

Nicola Sturgeon has said she welcomes the "very belated" energy bills plan announced by Liz Truss, but said it will not completely halt the rise in prices.

The Scottish First Minister also called on the UK Government to provide more funding to the devolved administrations to deal with the cost-of-living crisis.

The Prime Minister set out an emergency package costing tens of billions of pounds on Thursday to help shield households and businesses from soaring energy prices.

It includes an "energy price guarantee" preventing the average annual family bill in Britain soaring past £2,500 for two years from this autumn.

(PA Graphics) Credit: PA Graphics

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross raised the issue during First Minister’s Questions in Holyrood.

He said: "This vital support will save families £1,000 on their bills, on top of the £37 billion of help that’s already been announced.

"I’m sure the whole chamber will welcome the measures from the UK Government to support people and businesses across the country right now."

Ms Sturgeon responded: "Can I also take the opportunity to welcome the very belated action on energy bills that the new Prime Minister has just announced in the House of Commons."

She said she had not yet seen all the detail of the plan but is aware of the headlines.

Prime Minister Liz Truss set out plans to ease the cost-of-living crisis in the House of Commons on Thursday. Credit: House of Commons/PA Images

The First Minister continued: "It does not represent a halt to the rise in energy bills.

"Average energy bills right now are just under £2,000, a cap of £2,500 will still see people pay more for their energy.

"People are still seeing soaring energy costs because of a broken energy market and the utter incompetence of this UK Government."

The cost of the announcement will fall on consumers and taxpayers, she added.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar called on rail fares to be cut as part of measures to ease the cost of living.

The Scottish Government announced earlier this week that rents will be frozen until March.

Mr Sarwar said: "Rents are not the only costs that are rising. We have been calling for a rent freeze since June.

"But we’ve also been calling for a reduction in rail fares since April."

He highlighted a document from the SNP published over the summer which outlined the action being taken by other European countries in the face of the cost-of-living crisis.

"In that document, they included examples from Germany, Spain and Ireland, who have all cut rail fares," he told the chamber.

“ScotRail is now in public ownership. The decision on rail fares is for this Government.

"So will the First Minister commit to Labour’s plan for halving rail fares, which could save commuters up to £130 per month?"

Ms Sturgeon replied: "We have confirmed, as I did on Tuesday, a freeze on ScotRail fares until the end of March.

"The Deputy First Minister said yesterday that we will be considering, in the context of our emergency budget review, extending that further.

"We will also consider in the context of that emergency budget review, not just on rail fares but on a whole range of other areas, where we can go further to help people with the cost-of-living crisis.

"But it is important – not just important, it is inevitable and essential – that it is done in the context of that budget review."

Mr Sarwar urged the First Minister to be "bolder and more ambitious" in her emergency measures, and called for cross-party input for the budget review.

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