NICOLA Sturgeon has accused Rishi Sunak of showing a "callous disregard for the misery people are facing" in his Spring Statement.

During First Minister's Questions on Thursday, she blasted the Chancellor for not increasing benefits enough to help those on low incomes during the cost-of-living crisis.

She also accused the UK Government of "squirreling away" cash for pre-election bribes that could be given to the poor now.

Responding to a question from Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar, she said: "In terms of yesterday’s Spring Statement, I think it showed a callous disregard for the misery people are facing.

"Households incomes are about to suffer their biggest fall in more than 60 years.

"There was nothing to help the poor and those on the lowest incomes and I think it was shameful the chancellor squirreled away money for pre-election bribes, which could be used now to help the poor."

Sunak announced fuel duty would be cut by 5p - effective from 6pm on Wednesday - and the threshold at which workers start paying National Insurance would rise from £9600 to £12,570.

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Benefits will also rise by 3.1%t but that's compared to forecasted inflation of nearly double this level.

Sunak additionally pledged to cut the basic rate of income tax before the next general election.

Sarwar claimed Sturgeon was also guilty of not doing enough to help those struggling to make ends meet.

He told the chamber: "He [Sunak] must’ve been taking lessons in  missed opportunities from this First Minister. 

"In her government's budget, she had the chance to tackle the cost of living crisis but failed.

"Giving households less than £4 a week in a council tax rebate, copying Sunak’s policy, just won’t cut it. Will she accept the actions she has taken are not enough to tackle this crisis?"

Sturgeon hit back by highlighting the SNP had doubled the Scottish Child Payment and upped devolved benefits by 6%, but said the Government had limited resources to do everything she would like. 

Sarwar suggested she had power to change people's lives but was not using it. 

He said: "We welcome the doubling of the Scottish Child Payment but it’s a plan that predates the cost-of-living crisis. This First Minister obsesses over power she does not have, but she has been in government for 15 years, she has power. Use it to change people’s lives.

"When will the First Minister understand she has to do better?"

Sturgeon replied: "There is a wave of human misery being experienced right now and it is only going to get worse but there is a real issue at the heart of this.

"If you look at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JFR) analysis, those on the lowest incomes are going to see them cut by almost 6%. The main reason for that is the failure to uprate benefits by more than 3.1%. 

"When it came to a choice between yes and no, Anas Sarwar encouraged people to vote no and that’s why these powers remain in the hands of Boris Johnson and his government. Until Anas Sarwar addresses that issue we are always going to be limited in this parliament. When is he going to wake up and realise that?"

The JFR has estimated that around 400,000 people could be pulled into poverty because of benefit cuts in April.