ACROSS East Lothian, many households have felt the full impact of the global cost-of-living crisis.

However, as 2024 gets into full swing, there are some signs of positive development. Several banks and building societies have recently announced reductions in interest rates. This will mean mortgage rates should start to fall this year.

This comes off the back of a downward trend in inflation which should translate into less expensive trips to the supermarket. Earlier this month, the UK Government also cut national insurance, meaning many people in East Lothian will be about £400 better-off a year.

This month at Holyrood, the Scottish Government will press on with deeply damaging tax increases which mean everybody living and working in Scotland who earns more than £28,000 per year will pay more in tax than the rest of the UK.

I think it’s deeply unfair that somebody doing the same job in North Berwick will pay more in tax than someone in Berwick-upon-Tweed. This is all because the SNP have incompetently managed public services and public finances.

The budget that is before MSPs this month also fails to deliver for hard-pressed businesses. I speak to many local hospitality and pub operators who are warning that the combined pressures of business rates, fuel bills and the cost-of-living crisis has pushed their businesses nearly to breaking point. For example in Gifford, the Goblin Ha’ shut its doors before Christmas and it is sad to see such a prominent East Lothian business closed.

The Scottish Government could have stepped in by offering the same 75 per cent rates relief that the UK Government has given to businesses south of the Border, and for which Holyrood was given funding to deliver.

Sadly, time and time again, the SNP have the wrong priorities for Scotland.