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Almost two million households to be given £150 payment by Scottish Government in a bid to tackle rising cost of living

By Gregor White

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Finance Secretary Kate Forbes.
Finance Secretary Kate Forbes.

Almost two million households are to be given £150 payments by the Scottish Government in a bid to tackle rising cost of living

Finance Secretary Kate Forbes said the cash would go to households in council tax bands A to D and all of those eligible for council tax reduction.

Altogether some 1.85 million households will receive £150 of support when those elements are combined.

An extra £10 million is also to be targeted at people struggling with fuel bills.

The money is in addition to the £120 million allocated to local government in a bid to hold down council tax increases in the coming year.

Speaking at Holyrood this afternoon Finance Secretary Kate Forbes said of the £150 payment: "I've discussed this matter directly with COSLA as recently as last night, indicating my preference for this to be distributed as a payment rather than as a council tax credit.

"However, due to the urgency of mobilising this funding quickly, councils will have a choice.

"They can either deliver a direct payment or credit council tax accounts as long as it can be done in April."

She added: This is clearly an imperfect scheme. It will reach some households who may not need it, but it's the only route.

"And it's frustrating that we do not have all the levers I'd wish to have such as a full social security system or tax system to be able to best target and deliver that support.

"I know that the cost of living crisis is affecting households who are not in receipt of benefits as well, who are not claiming a council tax reduction, and they are facing hardship too.

"We need to do what we can to prevent those households and families on the edge of the poverty line from falling over it.

"In terms of going further to help councils have as much discretion, I'm also announcing today that I will allow any underspent existing discretionary housing payment funding to be redistributed between councils and carried forward next year to allow them to provide targeted, discretionary support and I will also allow any existing underspend of the Scottish Welfare Fund to be carried over by local authorities for the same purpose."

She also branded the support she was announcing as "not enough".

"Households across Scotland and across the UK are struggling with the wide range of rising costs and many of the macro-levers, for example around energy regulation, reside with the UK government," she said.

"And so in that spirit, I'll be writing to the Chief Secretary to the Treasury again, highlighting that we do need to work together urgently to use our joint powers to do more to tackle the cost of living and I hope that this teamwork can unite in that bid."

Ms Forbes said that the payments were honestly "not enough" with households across the UK struggling, and called for "urgent" action from the UK government to help.

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