Cost of living crisis: letter to the Prime Minister

Letter from the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon MSP, to the UK Government Prime Minister, Boris Johnson MP, on the cost of living crisis.

Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP
10 Downing Street

Dear Boris,

When we spoke on the phone last month we discussed the need for urgent action to support households facing the worsening cost of living crisis.

You suggested a first meeting of the Heads of Government Council to take place in September. However, as I am sure you must recognise, the situation is fast deteriorating and many people across the UK simply cannot afford to wait until September for further action to be taken. 

I am therefore writing to seek an emergency meeting of the Heads of Government Council and propose that we, as leaders of our respective governments, meet as soon as possible this week to discuss and agree urgent steps to help those in most need now, and also formulate a plan of action for the autumn and winter ahead.

While we will continue to take all actions available to us within devolved responsibilities and budgets - the Scottish Government is investing almost £3 billion this year in a range of measures which will help address the cost of living pressures - it is a statement of fact that many of the levers which would make the biggest difference lie with the UK Government. It is also the case that only the UK Government can access and make available resources on the scale required. Therefore, actions by devolved governments alone - though important - will not be enough to meet the unprecedented challenges we face.

Action is needed now to address significant gaps in help for households, in particular those on low incomes, who are increasingly vulnerable to the impact of rising household costs. However, it is also vital, given further increases to energy bills due to be announced later this month, that a substantial plan be developed now to avert and mitigate what will otherwise be a crisis of unprecedented proportions - a crisis in which many people will be unable to feed themselves and their families or heat their homes.

While few will escape some impact of the cost of living crisis, these impacts are not being experienced evenly. That is why the focus must be on providing targeted support to those most adversely impacted, rather than an irresponsible reduction in broad-based taxes which will benefit the relatively better off over those most in need. It is also vital that any tax cuts introduced by the UK Government do not result in tighter controls on spending which will impact on delivery of public services already under immense pressure.

The Bank of England monetary policy report last week laid bare the reality of a fast deteriorating economic outlook with the UK likely to move into recession later this year along with rising unemployment and sharply falling household incomes. 

The current crisis requires clear, focused and determined leadership and co-operation to develop and deliver - at pace - a package of interventions to protect those most impacted. 

The Scottish Government recognises our responsibility and is committed to doing all we can. However, we cannot respond on the scale required without action by your Government. Such action is needed now and I will make myself and my officials available so that a meeting can take place this week.

I look forward to your reply.

Nicola Sturgeon



Telephone: 0300 244 4000

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