The cost of living crisis is the biggest issue facing most people in Scotland.

Within a budget which the UK Tory Government cut this year by 5.2 per cent the SNP Government has managed to allocate almost £3,000 million to help households facing increased living costs. This includes support for energy bills, childcare, health, transport and social security payments not available elsewhere in the UK.

Under devolution the UK Chancellor has more influence on the size of Scotland’s Budget than Scottish Ministers. Yet, while Holyrood’s Finance and Public Administration Committee can hold Scottish Ministers to account for the revenues raised from taxes devolved to Scotland and the Scottish Budget, the block grant remains a UK Government matter. This is both a democratic and an economic disconnect.

As Committee Convener, I suggested to colleagues that we invite then Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak to give evidence on matters affecting the Scottish Budget as part of the 2023/24 Pre-Budget Scrutiny. No Chancellor has given evidence at Holyrood before and MSPs of all parties readily agreed.

Of course, Mr Sunak has resigned, and no one knows who the Chancellor will be this autumn. Mr Sunak presided over the cost of living crisis we spiralled into, failing to tackle inflation and rising energy prices. He should have chosen a better slogan for his Tory Leadership Campaign than “Let’s Rebuild the Economy”, given he damaged it.

In Scotland, enhanced devolved benefits, free school meals and concessionary travel, support households with increasing living costs.

This year, that includes £437 million of Council Tax and Water Charge reductions; £294.4 million for the Scottish Child Payment and other family benefits; £161 million for Heat, Energy Efficiency and Fuel Poverty measures; £64 million for universal provision of free school meals, and more.

The UK Tory Government holds most of the powers needed to tackle the cost of living crisis as well as borrowing and resourcing powers not devolved to Scotland. This includes oil and gas revenue, minimum wage, National Insurance and 85% of social security spending.

Unfortunately, Tory austerity and welfare reductions have placed many people in North Ayrshire, Scotland and other parts of the UK in a particularly precarious position. The SNP Government and our MPs continue to urge UK Ministers to deliver a comprehensive action plan to address rising prices and provide immediate, meaningful and sustainable support to struggling households. With the Tories paralysed by the search for a new Prime Minister, we expect a long wait.

However, the SNP Government will continue using devolved budgets to mitigate Tory failures. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development predicts that UK economic growth will grind to a halt next year, inflation will keep rising and peak at over 10% due to Brexit induced labour and supply shortages and high energy prices.

Meanwhile, every Tory leadership candidate is keen to hang on to Scotland and its resources. When asked if such resources would benefit an independent Scotland, they change their tune. Now is the time to ask why and whether you really think this is the best Scotland can do?