The Scottish Government spent £11.8 million in East Dunbartonshire to mitigate UK government policies this financial year, meaning there is less money available to support hard-pressed families through the cost-of-living crisis.
That is the warning of East Dunbartonshire MP, Amy Callaghan, who said that the “spirit of devolution is being undermined” with the Scottish Government forced to use funds to reverse policies implemented by Westminster.
The local MP pointed to the Scottish Government’s decision to mitigate the so-called Bedroom Tax through the use of Discretionary Housing Payments, at a cost of £62.7 million in 2020/21, as well as the Scottish Welfare Fund effectively reversing UK welfare reforms.
This comes as new analysis by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation found households on low incomes will spend an average of 18 percent of their income after housing costs on energy bills from April. For single adult households on low incomes this rises to 54 percent – an increase of 21 percentage points since 2019/20.
Ms Callaghan was critical of the ongoing cost-of-living crisis on her return to Westminster, describing it as a situation “of the UK government’s making”.
Commenting, Amy Callaghan MP said:
“Devolution was supposed to be about much more than righting the wrongs of Westminster.
“But that is where we are. By negligence or by design, the Tories are undermining devolution in Scotland – imposing cruel policies that leave the Scottish Government with no choice but to dip into restricted budgets to find the money to support people here in East Dunbartonshire, and across Scotland.
“If the Scottish Government didn’t have to mitigate these policies, that would free up cash to spend the equivalent of an extra £109 for every man, woman and child in East Dunbartonshire to deal with the spiralling cost of living.
“This is why I stood in the House of Commons last week to call for an immediate review of the level of Universal Credit, which was cut in October leaving the basic rate of unemployment support at the lowest level since the early 1990s, and at the lowest ever rate in relation to average earnings.
“It’s not good enough for Tory ministers to shrug their shoulders, with ordinary people told by a millionaire chancellor that we should just get used to spiralling living costs.
“We can do so much better.”