Philip Whyte, director of IPPR Scotland said: "This was billed as a cost crisis Programme for Government' and it is encouraging to see the Scottish government bring forward important new measures including a rent freeze and evictions ban, and confirmation of when Scottish Child Payment increases will start to be paid out. As hard-hit households stare the cost-of-living crisis in the face, many of the measures announced will provide some welcome relief.
"However, it is inescapable that much of what has been announced was already planned well before the crisis took hold. While much of the heavy lifting in tackling the root causes of the crisis will need to be done the UK government, the Scottish government can and must go further to help households with its immediate impacts.
"One such step would be doubling 'bridging payments' for families with children in receipt of free school meals - something has been called for by a host of organisations, including IPPR Scotland. It was promising to hear the First Minister commit to giving priority consideration to that through the government's emergency budget review and it is vital we see action as a result.
"Given in-year constraints, that budget review will require difficult decisions to free up the necessary funding - but those pale in comparison to the difficulties confronting low-income households. The Scottish government must consider all options to release funding and direct it towards further boosting incomes for the hardest hit households.
"Looking ahead, it should also provide the necessary impetus for progressive tax reform through future budgets, to secure the necessary revenue to escape the current crisis and ensure it doesn't hamper long-term ambitions to drive down poverty."
Anita Bhadani, media and impact assistant, firstname.lastname@example.org
NOTES TO EDITORS
IPPR Scotland is Scotland's progressive think tank. We are dedicated to supporting and improving public policy, working tirelessly to achieve a progressive Scotland. We are cross-party and neutral on the question of Scotland's independence. www.ippr.org