‘We published plans!’ Sturgeon skewered for ignoring help on energy bill crisis

Sturgeon slapped down by Sarwar over rising fuel prices

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Mr Sarwar said that the financial package includes a £200 reduction of their bills to aid half a million Scots, not least those needing it the most. He said: “While the First Minister scrambles to put together a last minute plan, we set out proposals months ago which could be helping people right now. “In response to the deepening crisis we have published plans to support hard-pressed Scots that includes a UK windfall tax that provides most households with £200 off their bills and a further 850,000 households in Scotland £600 off their bills.

“We have already set out detailed plans that will help over half a million of the hardest hit Scots.”

“The First Minister says we’ll set out plans for Scotland this afternoon.”

But Ms Sturgeon was having none of it, saying: “”The Finanace Secretary will set out additional plans this afternoon.

“Of course we will look carefully at any proposals that will come from Labour or anybody else but like most of Labou’r proposals they lack any indications of how the plan will actually be paid for. “The Scottish Government has actually got to fund that we do.”

She also announced that face masks for pupils will be ditched from February 28 but schoolchildren still need to wear them in communal areas and when walking around inside the premises such as when changing classrooms.

She said: “This change will reduce barriers to communication in the classroom, and reduce any wellbeing impacts which arise from the use of face coverings – for example their use in support learning and teaching.

“Of course, any young person or staff member who wishes to still wear a face covering in the classroom should be fully supported to do so.

“We expect that face coverings will still be required in indoor communal areas of schools for a period after 28 February.”

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She added: “In arriving at its recommendation, the Advisory Sub-Group pointed to reducing case rates for secondary aged pupils, falling hospitalisation rates across all age categories, and that the estimated R rate is below 1 – as well as increasing vaccination of young people.

“These changes represent a further step in allowing children and young people to return to more normality in school, after many, many months of sacrifices. I hope it will be welcomed across the country.”

The Scottish Conservatives have pressed ministers on the issue for weeks, with leader Douglas Ross saying: “Young people’s education has been unnecessarily disrupted for far too long.”

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He added: “Finally, after weeks of refusing to budge, the Government has U-turned.

“While it is welcome, it has taken much longer than was necessary.”

Ms Sturgeon insisted: “Had we done it before today, we would have been acting against expert and scientific advice – it would have been the wrong thing to do.

“We are doing it now at the right time and in line with advice and I think that marks the responsibility of this Government in contrast with the irresponsibility of the main opposition.”

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