Finance ministers from the three devolved countries have urged the UK government to do more to help those who need it most during the cost of living crisis.
Kate Forbes from Holyrood, Conor Murphy from the Northern Ireland Assembly, Rebecca Evans from the Welsh Government and Simon Clark, UK Government’s Chief Secretary to the Treasury, met in Cardiff on Wednesday.
The current cost-of-living crisis topped the agenda of politicians when they sat on an interdepartmental finance standing committee.
Ministers discussed what more could be done to help individuals and businesses cope with soaring food, fuel and energy prices as inflation rises.
It comes after a warning from Ofgem that consumers could face a further rise in their energy bills, with costs set to rise by around £800 a year in October.
The three finance ministers joined forces to ask Westminster to use the powers available to do more in support of those struggling.
Ms Forbes, Scotland’s Finance Secretary, said: “As we continue our economic recovery from the pandemic and the current cost of living crisis, we must firmly focus government and public sector resources on delivering clear priorities, including tackling child poverty, growing the economy and meeting our climate change goals.
“While we are doing all we can with the limited financial resources and limited powers we currently have to deal with the rising cost of living, the UK government must use the powers at its disposal to help those who are struggling. most need, including low-income people. households and families with children as well as businesses.
Ms Evans, Finance Minister for the Senedd, said: “The UK Government must use the levers at its disposal to take urgent further action to target support gaps, in particular to help low-income households and families with children, and to stimulate businesses. who are also feeling the effects of rising costs.
“Removing all the costs of social and environmental policies from household energy bills, for example, and introducing a lower price cap for low-income households would help them cover the costs of their current and future energy needs.”
Stormont Finance Minister Mr Murphy said: “The collective message to the Treasury today was clear – more must be done to help households and businesses facing an unprecedented cost of living crisis.
“While the Treasury has announced help for citizens, they must now consider supporting businesses that are also facing rising fuel and energy costs who are also facing rising fuel and electricity costs. energy in the context of trying to recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Together with the Welsh and Scottish Finance Ministers, I have made clear to the Chief Secretary to the Treasury the need for further action. I have again called on the Treasury to reduce VAT on energy bills.
He added: ‘I have also reiterated to the Chief Secretary to the Treasury the need to ensure that citizens in the North are not disadvantaged in paying the £400 Energy Bill Support Scheme due to the absence of an executive. We are committed to continued engagement between my department and Treasury to ensure a solution is found to provide support locally.
Discussions also took place on concerns around EU replacement funding, Covid recovery and the transition to net zero.
The Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish ministers then visited South Point Primary School in Rhoose, the first net zero school in Wales.