NICOLA Sturgeon has agreed to an urgent package of measures to tackle the cost-of-living crisis, while saying that lives will be lost if the UK Government does not act.

The First Minister made the announcement on Twitter on Thursday after she chaired a meeting of the Scottish Government’s Resilience Committee, which has agreed to now meet weekly to track the measures' progress.

As part of her announcement, the First Minister stressed that the tools needed to deal with the crisis were reserved to the UK Government and called on Westminster to do more to help households.

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Writing on Twitter Sturgeon wrote: “Today I chaired a meeting of the [Scottish Government’s] Resilience Committee to agree further actions on the spiraling cost of living/business emergency. We will do all we can within our powers & resources to help - including conducting an emergency budget review.

“However, reality is that key powers and access to necessary resources lie with the UK Gov. So we are calling - again - for urgent action: more cash help now; cancellation of next energy cap rise; energy market reform; & investment to support wages, business & public services.”

What measures has the Scottish Government committed to taking?

As part of the package to help Scottish families deal with rising costs, the Scottish Government has committed to:

•  Exploring the extension of eligibility for and increase the value of the Scottish Child Payment

• To commence an emergency budget review to assess whether government resources can be redirected to those most in need and reduce burdens on businesses

• To consider what can be done within devolved powers for regulatory action to limit increases in costs for people, businesses and other organisations

• Bring together energy companies, banks and food retailers to examine what further help can be provided by these businesses to limit cost increases and protect those most vulnerable

• Work with its partners to strengthen the safety net of emergency food/fuel provision, prioritising a "cash first" approach

• Provide further advice to households on using energy more efficiently and reducing consumption

As well as committing urgent action, the First Minister has demanded further action from the UK Government.

What demands is the First Minister making of the UK Government?

• An immediate doubling of the direct financial support already provided, with payments made by October.

• To cancel the upcoming increase in the energy price cap and enact urgent energy market reforms and associated financing options to ensure sustainable costs for consumers in the long term

• The urgent introduction of an energy price cap for Small and Medium Enterprises

• Support for business to prevent closures due to energy price rises and investment to minimise the scale of the projected recession

• A further windfall tax to ensure nationalisation of the profits being made out of the current pressures

• Additional funding to support public sector pay increases and protect the recovery of public services from the pandemic

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In a statement, the First Minister said “it is clear” that the cost-of-living crisis has escalated to a “cost of everything crisis” which is on a similar scale of urgency to the pandemic.

Sturgeon added that - in the absence of “substantial and urgent action from the UK Government” - the crisis would cost lives.

She said: “In the absence of substantial and urgent action, this emergency will cause acute deprivation and suffering. It will affect access to practical necessities for millions of people across the UK. Bluntly, it will cost lives …”

The Scottish Government has estimated that even with current measures already put in place by Westminster, at least 700,000 households in Scotland - 30% of all households - will be living in extreme fuel poverty by October.

It also estimated that the number could be even higher, if the Ofgem price cap for October 2022 is above £2800.

Sturgeon added: “In developing a response, governments must first and foremost address immediate need. We must all focus on supporting individuals, businesses and jobs by addressing the principal root causes of the problem.”

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When contacted for comment, the UK Government responded with statements from a meeting between the Prime Minister, the Chancellor and the electricity sector. 

Boris Johnson said: “Countries around the world are feeling the impact of Putin’s damaging war in Ukraine. We know that this will be a difficult winter for people across the UK, which is why we are doing everything we can to support them and must continue to do so.

“Following our meeting today, we will keep urging the electricity sector to continue working on ways we can ease the cost of living pressures and to invest further and faster in British energy security.

“We are continuing to roll out government support over the coming months, including the second £324 instalment of the cost of living payment for vulnerable households, extra help for pensioners and those with disabilities, and the £400 energy bills discount for all households.”

The Chancellor, Nadhim Zahawi, said: “This morning I hosted industry leaders from the electricity sector to discuss what more they can do to work with Government and act in the interest of the country in the face of rising prices caused by Putin's illegal invasion of Ukraine.

“We have already acted to protect households with £400 off energy bills and direct payments of £1200 for 8 million of the most vulnerable British families. In the spirit of national unity, they agreed to work with us to do more to help the people who most need it."