NICOLA Sturgeon has committed to spend “every penny” received from Westminster to mitigate the energy price hike but failed to immediately pledge to match the UK Government’s council tax rebate scheme.
Rishi Sunak announced that people in England would be offered a £150 rebate for council tax, with devolved governments receiving Barnett funds to enable them to do the same.
Only those in council tax bands A-D will receive the rebate.
He also announced that domestic electricity bills for 28million households would be reduced by £200 in October, with £40 added automatically to bills over the next five years to repay it.
The First Minister said the Chancellor’s measures “sounded like welcome steps to help mitigate that” but warned they were “steps in my view, that do not go far enough”.
She said that “they seem to offer around £350 of help against energy bill increases of around £700”.
Speaking at FMQs, she added: “I also don’t yet know what the position on consequentials will be, but I give a commitment here that, assuming there are consequentials, which I would expect there to be, every single penny of them will go, in Scotland, to helping people deal with the cost-of-living crisis.”
But the FM failed to back the UK Government’s plans to give a council tax rebate to Scots, pointing to a reduction scheme available in Scotland and not England, which could risk 400,000 low earners missing out on support.
She said: “There is one issue that we will have to deal with in Scotland because part of the Chancellor’s announcement was around rebates for council tax. Of course, average council tax bills are significantly lower already in Scotland.
“On a band C council tax, people on average pay £525 less in Scotland than in England.”
Ms Sturgeon added: “One of the other differences is that due to decisions made by this SNP Government, around 400,000 people in Scotland don’t pay any council tax because we have a council tax reduction scheme, unlike the situation in England – that can deliver up to 100 per cent relief.
“We will have to consider how we help those people because these people will still have energy bills that are rising as well, and we are determined that that help will be delivered.”
Following FMQs, Ms Stugeon’s spokesman said the Scottish Government was “not commiting to anything right now” in relation to a council tax rebate.
Scottish Conservative shadow cabinet secretary for finance and economy, Liz Smith, said: “Rishi Sunak and the UK Government have taken a big step toward tackling the cost of living crisis with these measures. Now the SNP must act urgently.
“The new money for Scotland must be passed onto local councils and the tax cut matched pound for pound.
“The SNP has no excuse to avoid passing on this funding boost from the UK Government to working people across Scotland.”