FOR many people the cost of living has now reached crisis point.

Energy bills are rising to the new price cap, and the price of food and other essentials continues to rise beyond the value of pay.

The UK Government's reckless 'mini-budget' destabilised the economy within hours, pouring fuel on the fire of inflation, crashing the value of the pound and forcing the Bank of England to intervene to protect pension funds.

One result of this economic meltdown was that thousands of mortgage products were taken off the market. Many mortgages remain off the market those that have returned have come back with huge interest rates attached.

These are desperate times for people looking to get onto the housing ladder for the first time, with the gap between the average house prices and the average wage growing ever wider each year.

For many, home ownership remains out of reach, and with social housing being so scarce, the private rented sector remains the only option.

Rents have risen sharply in the last decade, with a 20.9 per cent increase for a one-bedroom flat in the Forth Valley area.

Middle-income householders in Stirling could be spending over a third of their wages on an average rental, and in many cases will be paying more than they would on a mortgaged property.

Housing is a basic human right that underpins our health and wellbeing, so it was vitally important that action was taken.

The case for action to prevent evictions and freeze rents during the cost crisis had been made strongly by housing charities like Shelter and the campaign group Living Rent.

As a Green MSP, it was an historic and proud moment as parliament voted the legislation through. The first time ever that a bill from a Green Party minister has been brought through parliament anywhere in the UK.

The legislation freezes rents till the end of March 2023, with the potential for that to be extended to 2024. Most evictions will be suspended, and the bill will make it much easier for tenants to challenge illegal evictions. Landlords who break the rules will also face tougher sanctions.

It's just the start of a New Deal for Tenants that Greens in government will be leading on. Further rent controls, more powers to challenge unfair evictions and new rights to decorate and keep pets will be coming.

Energy, however, remains challenging as Holyrood does not have the powers to regulate electricity markets.

The cheapest energy bills will be for the energy we can avoid using by improving the fabric of our homes, and a wide range of generous grants and interest free loans are available from the Scottish Government for households looking to make these changes.

Renewable energy systems such as solar panels, battery storage, air source heat pumps or biomass boilers are becoming more widespread and cost effective.

It can be daunting to know where to start, so my office recently held an advice surgery in Stirling to help people access the practical support and finance that is available.

Please do get in touch if you would like an energy advice session with my team to help you take control of the energy cost crisis –