THE cost of living crisis is a primary illustration of why independence is necessary, constitutionally and as a human right.

This reasoning was articulated with terrifying simplicity by the Social Justice Secretary Shona Robison when she stated that the Scottish Government will not be able to mitigate all the effects of the crisis.

Westminster holds most of the powers needed to tackle the cost of living crisis as well as borrowing and resourcing powers we do not currently have. This includes energy, the minimum wage, National Insurance and 85% of social security spending.

The Tories’ decade of austerity and welfare reforms had already led to a particularly precarious position.

Despite being constantly urged to use all the powers and fiscal headroom at their disposal to put together a comprehensive action plan to address the long-term impacts of rising prices and provide immediate support to struggling households, Westminster has turned its back on us.

If we cannot fully mitigate, empower and prepare for the ability of people to keep their heating on and put food on the table, this Union is demonstrably not fit for purpose. It is dysfunctional and unequal.

Within our limited budget, Scotland has allocated almost £3 billion in this financial year to help families and households face the increased cost of living. This includes support for energy bills, childcare, health and travel, as well as social security payments not available anywhere else in the UK.

We are increasing our Scottish Child Payment to £25 per child per week when we extend it to under-16s by the end of 2022. This will mean a 150% increase in less than a year and around 400,000 eligible for this vital anti-poverty benefit. We are doing what we can.

The elephants in the room are that the cost of living crisis is driven by corporate greed and the Union. The rhetoric during a Tory leadership contest focused on inflation did not seek to address these underlying causes. It’s unbelievable that many people will suffer when they have not had meaningful pay rises for years and have to struggle further with shopping budgets escalating.

Contrast this with the Tories keeping their big-money backers onside with oil giants reaping huge benefits from the pandemic and the Ukraine crisis – Shell and BP’s combined profits last year totalled $32bn (£24.5bn), which of course triggered a windfall tax to be levied. Following the Thatcherite privatisation of our utility and transport companies, we have seen them make billions in profits as they push up the prices of energy, water and other commodities. The National Grid, for instance, pays out more than £1bn a year to its shareholders. All issues where the democratic deficit looms large.

This crisis did not happen overnight. Years of benefit cuts, pay freezes and failure to tackle rising energy bills were deliberate political choices forced on Scotland by Westminster governments that we did not vote for, and have had a devastating impact on living standards. These decisions help explain why independent countries comparable to Scotland outperform the UK on a range of indicators – wealthier, more equal and with less poverty, and therefore more able to withstand cost of living pressures.

It is clearer than ever that when it comes to tackling the cost of living crisis, Westminster is not the solution to the problem – Westminster is the problem. And that is why independence is essential to tackling the cost of living crisis. The status quo system is not a viable option, not least when we can proudly be judged by many, including the international community, as doing the right thing by those that are left disenfranchised and lost in a broken system.

This article was published as part of a special-edition paper distributed in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire by the Aberdeen Independence Movement. Click HERE to read more of these articles.