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Urgent action needed as people in the Highlands face ‘cost of living crisis’

By Louise Glen

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Rhoda Grant MSP Highlands and Islands.
Rhoda Grant MSP Highlands and Islands.

A Highlands MSP has demanded action to protect families and households across the Highlands who are staring down the barrel of a ‘cost of living crisis’ caused by the pandemic.

Rhoda Grant, Highlands and Islands MSP, said that statistics published by the Scottish Government last week have revealed the extent of the cost of living crisis facing the people of the Highlands with many thousands seeking help with council tax exemptions.

The figures show that as of last November almost half a million Scots - 497,170 people – were receiving council tax exemption due to financial pressures.

In the Highland Council area, as many as 17,700 have been forced to apply for council tax exemption.

Statistics have also revealed that by the end of December 2020, 1,207 people had applied for debt moratoria under emergency measures brought forward by Scottish Labour and contained in both the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 and the Coronavirus (Scotland) (No.2) Act 2020.

On top of the pressures of council tax and personal debt, millions of Scots are set to be hit by inflation-busting water prices – despite Scottish Water and its subsidiaries holding reserves of over half a billion pounds.

Mrs Grant is challenging the SNP to take action to support thousands of Scottish families facing a cost of living crisis due to collapsing earnings and spiralling costs.

Mrs Grant said: “The economic shockwaves of this pandemic have rocked families and households in the Highlands, with many thousands facing falling earnings and rising costs.

“Make no mistake, the people of the Highlands are facing a cost of living crisis. It is simply unacceptable that 17,700 people in the Highland Council area have been forced to apply for council tax exemption."
She continued: "The SNP has been too slow to act to support businesses, protect workers and protect family finances – at the coming budget, Scottish Labour will fight for a fair economic recovery for all that puts the people of Scotland first.

“It’s time to put households and families across the Highlands at the heart of our economic recovery.”

The full report can be read here.

Read more about Rhoda Grant.

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