Labour leaders have demanded both of Scotland’s Governments step in to help people make ends meet ahead of an expected surge in energy prices.

The party’s UK leader Sir Keir Starmer and Scottish chief Anas Sarwar are calling on the SNP in Holyrood and the Conservatives in Westminster to use powers available to them to help ease the burden as high inflation chips away at people’s wages and sees prices climb.

Sir Keir, speaking ahead of a visit to Glasgow on Friday, said he wants to see VAT on energy bills scrapped and “targeted action to save most households around £200 a year, or up to £600 for those who need it most”.

Keir Starmer visit to Scotland
Sir Keir Starmer and Anas Sarwar are demanding action on the surging cost of living (Andrew Milligan/PA)

He added: “Boris Johnson and the Tories are scrambling to save their own skins, hopelessly distracted by a pending criminal investigation into their behaviour at Downing Street.

“Meanwhile, people across Scotland are worried about their bills, rising prices and how much it will cost to fill up the car next week.”

Labour has also called on the Scottish Government to use Barnett consequentials to hand out a £70 supplement to the winter fuel payment for low-income pensioners and struggling families.

The party said more than a quarter of Scottish households are already struggling with energy costs and living in fuel poverty, while a recent survey by Citizens Advice found 36% of people say they cannot afford their fuel bills.

Mr Sarwar said: “People are facing the rising cost of energy bills; they need help now. We can’t dither and delay when families need action.

“It’s possible to act now using the powers in both the UK and Scottish parliaments – but the SNP and Tories are more interested in division than acting to ease the cost of living crisis.”

The two leaders also want to see the SNP-led Scottish Government delay implementation of new fire alarm regulations, which Labour said is burdening people with high installation costs, as well as introducing a rail fare freeze.

A Transport Scotland spokesman said: “We know that any increase in fares is unwelcome for passengers, however, the changes we are implementing this year are essential to our wider recovery plans. Scottish rail fares remain, on average, 20% lower than across the rest of Great Britain.”

And on tackling the cost of living, a UK Government spokesman said: “We’re providing support worth around £12 billion this financial year and next to help families with the cost of living and further work is ongoing to look at the appropriate response to cost of living pressures facing people.

“We’re cutting the Universal Credit taper to make sure work pays, freezing alcohol and fuel duties to keep costs down, and providing targeted support to help households with their energy bills.”