Monday October 3rd 2022
Lorna Slater, Scottish Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity, Lothian MSP and Scottish Greens co-leader writes her monthly column for Midlothian View.
It may have been branded as a “mini-budget” but it has had huge consequences.
Faced with the biggest cost crisis for a generation, the Chancellor chose to cut taxes for some of the wealthiest people and companies in the world while boosting bonuses for bankers and cutting benefits for many of the most vulnerable.
During his speech, the Chancellor talked about the importance of fiscal responsibility. But, in the short time since, we have seen the pound going into freefall, interest rates skyrocketing and the Bank of England being forced to make a £65 billion intervention.
All of this came on top of what was already a terrible financial situation, with increasing food prices and bills hitting eye watering levels.
They have shown the same disregard for our climate. Earlier this month Liz Truss announced that she would be granting 100 new oil and gas exploration licenses.
She seems determined to double down on the dirty technologies of the past. Further investment in new Oil, Gas and Nuclear are all non-answers. They will do nothing to cut household bills but while doing serious damage to our environment.
Their green credentials were made even worse a few days later when her Energy Minister, Jacob Rees-Mogg, announced that he would be ending the ban on fracking in England.
Scotland will not be changing its policy on fracking. The Scottish Government along with my colleagues in the Scottish Greens have reaffirmed our commitment to uphold a ban and ensure that we remain a fracking-free zone.
The climate crisis is a global crisis, and all governments must move forward together if we are to tackle it. That is why my Scottish Green colleagues and I will always stand in support and solidarity with the communities who are being used in this reckless anti-climate experiment.
In Scotland we are trying to lead by example. That is why, with Scottish Greens in government, we are doing everything we can to build a fairer, greener country that can break away from the broken Westminster system.
The contrast in priorities could not be clearer. We are using the powers we have to make a difference and to protect Scotland from the cuts, austerity and climate vandalism of Downing Street.
After months of hard work and negotiations, the Greens and the Scottish Government published a bold and ambitious Program for Government.
It includes big steps to tackle poverty in Midlothian, Edinburgh, and all across Scotland.
With the cost crisis plunging hundreds of thousands of people into poverty, we have doubled the Scottish Child Payment to £20 a week for every eligible child and are increasing it again to £25 a week in November.
The First Minister also announced that we are bringing forward emergency legislation to freeze rents and curb evictions until at least March.
Since 2010, rents in the Lothian region have risen on average by over 40%, and, with the UK government losing control of the economy, we know just how important this change will be to tenants all over Scotland.
As Minister for Tenants’ Rights, my Scottish Green colleague Patrick Harvie will be leading on the Bill and championing it as it progresses through parliament.
We are not just taking action on poverty; we are also bringing forward legislation to tackle the climate crisis.
I have just finished a Consultation on a Circular Economy Bill that will introduce a ban on the destruction of unsold goods to ensure that they end up in the hands of people that need them. This is a bill that I am proud to be taking through in my Ministerial role.
The last week has also highlighted the stark limitations of devolution. All of the economic consequences of Tory misrule have been inflicted on us by a government that we have rejected time and again but cannot remove.
Next year’s independence referendum will allow us to take a different path. With the powers of independence, we can take our future and our finances into our own hands and build a recovery that works for people and the planet, rather than a Tory one that has been designed for bankers, polluters and the super-rich.
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