CHANCELLOR Rishi Sunak must return to Westminster and deliver an Emergency Budget to tackle the cost of living crisis, the SNP have said.

Alison Thewliss the party’s shadow chancellor, accused the UK Government of making a “deliberate political choice” to ignore the rising financial pressures on households.

With the Commons currently in Easter recess, she added that while the Prime Minister and Chancellor “may be able to afford to sit on their hands and do nothing till the Autumn Budget, ordinary people don’t have the same luxury”.

Sunak is expected to use part of recess to go on holiday to California, where he has a home.

READ MORE: Poverty action from Scottish Government 'stark contrast' to UK Government, charities say

The warning comes as households now face the biggest rise in the cost of energy in living memory, following a 54% hike in the energy price cap.

Yesterday, the STUC and People’s Assembly held a rally in George Square as part of UK-wide protests against the cost of living crisis, warning an estimated 211,000 homes across Scotland could now be plunged into fuel poverty.

Thewliss said: “Many are having to make the difficult decision over whether they can afford to eat a meal or heat their home.

“Households are facing a triple whammy from the energy price hike from April, the rise in National Insurance and the impending rise of energy prices in October.

“Unless the UK Government acts, then millions face being plunged into poverty and hardship – and the blame will lie at the doors of the Prime Minister and Chancellor.

“The reality is the Spring Statement wasn’t just a missed opportunity, it was a deliberate political choice by the UK Government to ignore the Tory cost of living crisis brewing under its watch.”

The National:

Thewliss (above) called for Sunak to take action such as scrapping the hike in National Insurance, matching the Scottish Child Payment UK-wide, increasing benefits and reducing or removing VAT on household energy bills.

“Warm words now won’t heat up homes or food – only action will,” Thewliss added.

“The Chancellor must immediately return to Parliament with an Emergency Budget that finally puts money into people’s pockets.”

New research by Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) published today has found reduced or loss of income is cited by more than 280,000 people as a key driver for debt since the beginning of the pandemic.

CAS said the figures showed the cost of living crisis must also be understood as an income crisis for millions of people across the country.

With energy bills and prices in the shops rising, the charity is warning more and more people risk falling into debt.

Jemiel Benison, CAS financial health spokesperson, said: “The cost of living crisis is also fundamentally a crisis of income for people across the country, with hundreds of thousands of people citing reduced or lost income completely as a key reason for debt.

“The end of the furlough scheme will have been a key factor here, as people already faced reduced incomes, and rising prices in the shops and energy bills compound that.”

The figures were published as part of the CAS Debt Happens campaign, which seeks to encourage people by stressing that they are not alone in facing debt and raise awareness of the help available from across the CAS network.

Meanwhile, the Scottish Government is investing £113 million of funding for employability services to help those most at risk of long-term unemployment.

The funding will be used to create tailored services based on local needs and ensure the right help is given to support people in moving towards and into work.

Employment Minister Richard Lochhead said: “Redesigning services with the user in mind is part of the bold steps we’re taking to achieve the goals of the National Strategy for Economic Transformation.

“This investment will build on existing support to deliver more localised help around employability and skills to people most disadvantaged in the labour market.”