THE SCOTTISH Government has been accused of “spinning like a washing machine” over their help for the cost of living crisis. 

As the price of energy, food, travel and childcare all surges, the SNP and ministers in Edinburgh claim to have allocated £3bn in this financial year to help families and households with the squeeze 

However, a new blog by the impartial Scottish Parliament’s Information Centre (SPICe), says the figure specifically for the current increase in inflation is closer to £490m. 

The researchers said a detailed list of the spending provided by the Scottish Government includes money allocated by measures first introduced by the pre-2007 Labour-LibDem coalition government. 

SPICe added that while all of the policies “do help reduce costs for families and households in some way” a list of measures “announced specifically in response to the current increase in inflation” which they have taken as beginning in October last year, “would be quite a bit shorter.“

They continued: “Many items on the list are long-standing commitments that go back very many years.  

“The single most expensive policy – at around £1 billion – is for increasing funded early learning and childcare.  This has been government policy since 2014.  It was introduced last August because it had been delayed for a year due to COVID-19.”

Measures introduced since last October include free school meals during the holidays, increases to various energy efficiency schemes, the increase to Scottish Child Payment and certain social security benefits, and additional funding for benefit cap mitigation costing. 

The biggest single measure, SPICe say, is the passing on of the UK Government’s council tax rebate, worth around £280m.

In total, this comes to around about £490m.

Labour’s Neil Bibby said the Scottish Government’s claims of billion pound help were desperate. 

He said:  “Not only is this SNP-Green coalition completely failing to tackle the cost of living crisis, they are now having to try to take credit for policies implemented by the Labour government nearly two decades ago.

“This desperation throws 15 years of nationalist failure at Holyrood into sharp relief.

“The only way to tackle the cost of living crisis is to focus on the issues at hand - not more SNP-Green sabre rattling.”

The Lib Dem MSP Willie Rennie described the SPICe briefing as a “brutal rebuke” to ministers. 

He said: “The Scottish Government are spinning like a washing machine. Some of the policies that they are claiming credit for date back to days of the Lib-Lab coalition.

“This is a brutal rebuke of the Scottish Government from the studiously impartial researchers at SPICe.

“This SNP/Green government is not doing nearly enough to tackle soaring energy bills and the cost-of-living crisis. We need to get more money to families and kickstart an emergency insulation programme to bring down energy bills.”

Scottish Conservative social justice spokesman Miles Briggs said: “This analysis exposes the truth behind the SNP Government’s misleading claims about the support it is offering hard-pressed Scots during the global cost-of-living crisis.

“Less than one-sixth of the £3 billion they claim they are providing is actually new funding.

"It’s shameless spin by SNP ministers to claim pre-existing spending as part of their supposed support package.

“They need to apologise, set the record straight, and redouble their efforts to help struggling households.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Within its limited budget, the Scottish Government has allocated almost £3 billion in this financial year alone to help families and households face the increased cost of living.

"As recognised in the report, Scottish Government policies are helping households both immediately through targeted support and helping weather the current crisis a little bit more easily such as increased access to free childcare, baby boxes, prescriptions, travel and social security payments not available anywhere else in the UK including the Scottish Child Payment. 

"This reflects how we have recognised the pressure on family budgets for some time and have responded by implementing changes to support them.

“Westminster holds most of the powers needed to tackle the cost of living crisis and child poverty. We have continually urged them to use all the levers at their disposal and provide immediate support to struggling households.”