Nicola Sturgeon has demanded Boris Johnson moves cost of living crisis talks from September to this week as Brits “can’t afford to wait”.
The First Minister of Scotland told the PM the situation is “fast deteriorating”, after the Bank of England’s gloomy projections that could see inflation skyrocket to 13% or above in October.
In a letter sent to Mr Johnson on his first day back from holiday, Ms Sturgeon stressed that “targeted” support was necessary for the most vulnerable, while hitting out at tax cuts proposed by those vying to succeed Boris Johnson in No 10.
Last week, the Bank of England announced projections that could see inflation rise above 13% in October, while another projection found that the energy price cap could rise to £3,358 annually from October, and could hit £3,615 from January.
She told the PM: “You suggested a first meeting of the Heads of Government Council to take place in September,” the First Minister wrote.
“However, as I am sure you must recognise, the situation is fast deteriorating and many people across the UK simply cannot afford to wait until September for further action to be taken.
“I am therefore writing to seek an emergency meeting of the Heads of Government Council and propose that we, as leaders of our respective Governments, meet as soon as possible this week to discuss and agree urgent steps to help those in most need now, and also formulate a plan of action for the autumn and winter ahead.”
She added: “The current crisis requires clear, focused and determined leadership and co-operation to develop and deliver – at pace – a package of interventions to protect those most impacted.”
In response, a spokeswoman for the Prime Minister said: “We recognise the pressures families across the United Kingdom are facing due to rising prices caused by global challenges.
“That’s why the UK Government is providing 689,000 households in Scotland with the £650 cost-of-living payment, £300 for all Scottish pensioners and £400 to help people with their energy bills.
“We have also provided an extra £82 million for the Scottish Government to help vulnerable families at their discretion – in addition to the significant income tax and welfare powers they already have.
“The UK Government’s spending review provided the Scottish Government with a record £41 billion annual settlement for the next three years and we will continue to work collaboratively with them.”
It came as Tony Danker, director general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), joined former prime minister Gordon Brown’s call for swift intervention to address rising energy costs.
Mr Danker said: “The economic situation people and businesses are facing requires all hands to the pump this summer.
“We simply cannot afford a summer of Government inactivity while the leadership contest plays out followed by a slow start from a new prime minister and cabinet.”
The CBI also called for top civil servants to be directed to draft options to help struggling households ahead of a new prime minister being selected.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said Mr Johnson – who is back in No 10 following his holiday in Slovenia – would be speaking to Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi to ensure that support measures due to come into effect later in the year remained on track.
But the spokesman added that any further measures would be a matter for Mr Johnson’s successor once the Tory leadership contest concludes.
Mr Johnson has been urged by Mr Brown to trigger the UK Government’s emergency response committee to deal with the crisis.
Writing for the Daily Mirror newspaper on Monday, the former prime minister issued a plea for “urgent measures” to cover further rises in fuel bills amid “millions standing on the edge of a financial precipice”.
He urged Mr Johnson to unite with Tory leadership hopefuls Ms Truss and Mr Sunak to prepare and agree on an emergency budget – or face growing pressure to recall Parliament and force them to do so.
Mr Brown said: “With millions standing on the edge of a financial precipice, we call for urgent measures to cover the cost of a further £1000-plus rise in fuel bills on top of April’s already painful increases.”
He added: “Cobra, the UK Government’s disaster emergency committee, should be in permanent session to deal with the coming fuel and energy crisis.”