LAST month the Scottish Parliament passed the Coronavirus (Recovery and Reform) (Scotland) Bill which made a number of temporary Covid-19 public health protections permanent.

The challenges of the pandemic have now been superseded by the UK’s 40-year high rate of inflation and soaring energy bills. Our growing cost-of-living crisis is causing more financial misery for people than the Covid-19 pandemic.

We’ve had no strategic emergency response from the Scottish Government – no cost-of-living emergency bill – why not?

The Scottish Government has increased the means tested Scottish Child Payment to £20 per week which helps around 104,000 children under the age of six. If this payment is extended to older children at the end of this year it may help another 300,000 young persons.

Debt law is devolved to the Scottish Parliament and with more people finding themselves in unmanageable debt, surely, it’s time for the Scottish Government to do more before things get worse.

Alan McIntosh thinks so. He’s a Glasgow anti-debt campaigner who runs the Financial Conduct Authority authorised website,, and believes the Scottish Government should bring forward urgent legislation to help people with the cost-of-living crisis.

He’s made 22 proposals that could help people in the coming months. Some of these are novel, some have already been made by parliamentary committees, like the social justice and social security committee, while some are lessons learned from England.

Others are proposals from groups like Citizens Advice Scotland and Christians Against Poverty, who are at the coalface of helping people with money troubles.

Speaking about the need for new legislation, Alan said: “It’s true the UK Government could be doing more to help people, but it’s equally true they cannot fix everything, as some of the problems are global in nature, and some of the powers we need to use are devolved. It wouldn’t cost lots of money to use these powers to help people.”

Among the proposals are calls to create schemes to help people with their council tax bills, when they invest in their homes to make them more energy efficient, and giving more powers to local authorities to help people with council tax bills when there are extenuating circumstances.

Other recommendations include making the Scottish debt arrangement scheme fairer – this is the only scheme of its type in the UK which makes it easier for people to pay off their debts.

Law reform could mitigate the effects of wage arrestments for people in debt – like we did for bank account arrestments in the recent Coronavirus Bill – and increase the powers the courts have to give people greater time to pay, especially in relation to consumer debts such as car finance agreements.

We can also give people stronger protection from those they owe money to when they are suffering from long term mental and physical health problems and strike a more equitable balance between the rights of creditors and those in debt.

The Scottish Parliament could redress the imbalance where many consumers are squeezed by unfair charges. For example, private parking charges are devolved because they are based on Scots contractual law.

Typical private parking charges are £80 to £100 with a £60 admin fee if not paid promptly. Contrast a council parking charge notice (PCN) which is £60 but reduced to £30 if paid within 14 days of issue.

Scotland could be the first UK home nation to tackle the problem of over-priced private parking charges – particularly since the UK Government dropped its proposed private parking code of practice last month, which would have aligned charges more closely with PCNs.

Alan said: “There might not just be one solution, but that’s understandable because there is not just one problem. However, we do have a responsibility to start strapping everything down and improving what we can before this cost-of-living crisis really crashes into the household finances of Scottish families.”

Last week a new Sheriff Principal practice note for Scotland’s eviction courts took effect. It provides that cases should not be “sisted” (frozen) for payment or continued more than once unless “exceptional circumstances” are proven.

Many social tenants facing eviction in receipt of social security benefits can only afford a few pounds per week to rent arrears and their cases can be frozen in court for a year or more until the debt is reduced. The case can then be dismissed with no impact on the tenant’s credit rating.

The new court guidance looks set to subject many tenants to payment decrees – with a negative impact on credit scores – or worse, more evidential hearings with the risk of eviction orders and homelessness. This is something a Cost-of-Living Crisis Bill could address.