Scotland: Kate Forbes grilled on new fuel aid scheme
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SNP Finance Secretary Kate Forbes was grilled over the poorest in society having to pay the most for their electricity under her new aide scheme. Nicola Sturgeon’s finance chief announced on Thursday that over 70 percent of Scottish households will receive £150 to help to ease the cost of living. But the BBC The Nine presenter criticised the new scheme, noting complaints had arisen over it not doing enough for those facing extreme poverty due to the energy price hike in the UK.
The Nine’s host said: “Do you think that goes far enough though?
“Given we’re talking about the poorest in society having to pay the most for their electricity, paying more than £700 on top of what they’re paying at the moment.
“Do you think this is really going to cut it because the people that we’ve been speaking to, in reaction to your statement this afternoon say it just doesn’t go far enough?”
Ms Forbes said: “Well I would agree in part with them, and it’s one of the reasons that I two things in my statement today.
“The first is, that bearing in mind it’s energy costs that are proving the most challenging.
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Ms Forbes added: “Energy is entirely reserved, energy regulation is reserved, we live in a country which is rich and wealthy with energy production.
“We’ve just seen a week in which energy companies are suggesting record profits.
“The regulations of those energy companies need to happen at source, the UK government has the powers over it.
“But my second point is that the spore today is just the latest, we have for example over the winter provided winter support payments to those in need.
“We have discretionary housing payments, we have support for rising energy costs and energy efficiency already.”
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The news came after the Ofgem announcement last week, which sees a 50 percent increase in fuel prices for those living in the UK.
Ms Forbes’s announcement came after UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced plans for a council tax rebate for Brits.
Ms Forbes announced that she would invest £290m to help Scottish families most in need.
During her announcement in Scottish Parliament, Ms Forbes said: “However, due to the urgency of mobilising this funding quickly, Councils will have a choice, they can deliver a direct payment or a credit to Council Tax accounts, as long as it can be done in April.
“This is clearly an imperfect scheme, it will reach some households who may not need this, but it is the only route we have to make sure we reach those for whom it will make a difference, quickly and simply.”
The Scheme has been slammed by Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar and Green MSP Ross Greer.
Mr Greer said: “At a time when the UK Government is hiking National Insurance, cutting Universal Credit and protecting oil & gas corporations from paying their fair share of tax, I’m proud that here in Scotland the parties of government are delivering the help families really need.
“Despite the backdrop of a billion-pound cut from the UK Government, our budget delivers on the key Green priorities of tackling child poverty and the climate emergency.
“It includes the biggest increase in funding for teacher recruitment since 2007 and of course, free bus travel for young people and the doubling of the Scottish Child Payment. That’s the difference Greens are making in government.”
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