Renfrewshire MP Gavin Newlands has called on the UK government to provide urgent support to families and households across the UK who are struggling to make ends meet due to the coronavirus pandemic.
A Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) survey revealed that a third of Scots expressed worries over how they would continue to pay for bills, food and other essentials.
Four in ten of those with debt repayments are concerned about paying those repayments, four in ten of renters are also concerned about being able to meet rent payments; this compares to 31% of those who have mortgages being concerned about making those payments and around a third (35%) of those who pay utility bills are concerned about paying for those bills.
Earlier, the SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford wrote to party leaders urging the UK government and opposition parties to hold an urgent meeting with utilities companies to ensure households have the support they need as unemployment rises, incomes are reduced, and utility costs and usage increase.
Meanwhile the Paisley and Renfrewshire North MP has asked the Chancellor to amend the furlough scheme to allow thousands more workers to qualify, with many falling through the safety net.
Mr Newlands, said: “The coronavirus crisis has pushed many families and individuals across the UK, through no fault of their own, into hardship and financial difficulty.
“With a significant number of people in Scotland worried about how they will pay for food, essential items, bills, and payments on their homes, it is vital that the UK government sets out measures to support people in their time of need.
“Household costs are rising at the same time as millions of people are seeing a reduction or complete loss of their income. The financial strain facing many people is becoming unbearable. The UK government must urgently take steps to alleviate the burden, including through introducing a guaranteed minimum income, an Emergency Coronavirus Energy Grant, a six-month reprieve on utilities being cut off, and a freeze on prices.
“These are difficult times and no family or household should be left behind or struggling to heat their home, pay their bills, or put food on their table.
“The UK government has worked constructively with the devolved governments on measures that have been brought forward so far, but much more needs to be done to help those households who are on the brink and struggling to make ends meet.”
CAS, the umbrella body for the Citizens Advice network in Scotland, is encouraging people to claim what they are entitled to boost their incomes.
CAS Chief Executive Derek Mitchell, said: “These figures provide a stark illustration of what has been clear for some time – coronavirus is not just a public health crisis but represents a cost of living one for households as well.
“Our network helps hundreds of thousands every year and we have seen for some time the problem of people just about managing in our economy – people who are especially vulnerable to disruptions to their income or significant increases in bills.
“What is welcome is that both the UK and Scottish Government recognised these risks early in the process, announcing a vital package of measures to help people, from boosting Universal Credit to increasing the Scottish Welfare Fund.
“Beyond that, there are options for people to apply for mortgage holidays and changes to housing law in Scotland as a result of emergency legislation means longer notice for evictions as a result of rent arrears.
“What is essential now is that people apply for the support they are entitled to so they can best navigate this crisis. We saw last week a huge increase in people applying for Universal Credit – that should not put off people who qualify.
“There’s an onus too on employers to ensure that they apply for the worker retention scheme so people can be kept on payroll where possible.
“The Citizens Advice network is here to help people with these concerns. Our bureaux have reacted to these extraordinary circumstances incredibly well and advisers are on hand to help support people.
“Beyond that, our online advice pages are seeing unprecedented numbers of views, and people can get that advice online at www.citizensadvice.org.uk/Scotland”