Nicola Sturgeon has said the energy price cap rise should not go ahead, as she accused the UK Government of being “missing in action” on the issue.
The First Minister said many families will be facing destitution in the coming months as a result of soaring bills, saying the scale of the UK Government response should match that of the Covid pandemic.
The Scottish Government’s resilience room will meet later on Thursday to discuss further support for households.
Ms Sturgeon spoke as she visited the Lowson Memorial Church’s breakfast club in Forfar, Angus.
The First Minister said: “When we look ahead at what is projected to happen with energy costs, this is not just a situation of families feeling a squeeze and having to tighten their belts in order to meet higher bills.
“There are going to be many, many families who simply cannot pay these bills because they don’t have the wherewithal to do it.
“That is the magnitude and the severity of the emergency that’s being faced.
“It’s of a different nature to the Covid pandemic but, actually,, I think is on a similar scale to the emergency that that created and if it’s not tackled with serious urgent action, we’re going to see increasing deprivation, suffering.
“We’re going to see undoubtedly loss of life.”
She said the Scottish Government would leave “no stone unturned” on the issue.
Discussing issues reserved to the UK Government, she called for the next energy price rise to be cancelled, a windfall tax and restructuring of energy companies and the removal of VAT on fuel.
Ms Sturgeon said she agreed with many of the proposals made by Gordon Brown in an intervention earlier this week.
She said: “I stand ready as First Minister to work with the UK Government, but they are missing in action right now while people suffer and suffer in an increasingly severe way.”
The SNP leader said “we perhaps need to hear more from Keir Starmer as well” on action which could be taken at Westminster.
After cancelling the energy bill price cap, she said the UK Government should examine the “root causes” of price rises.
Earlier this week, Ms Sturgeon wrote to Boris Johnson calling for a meeting of the UK’s heads of Government council to be brought forward.
During her visit to Lowson Memorial Church, the First Minister met parents and children who use the breakfast club.
At one point she donned a green handmade mask created by seven-year-old Lily Sinclair, who made it to resemble one of her favourite superheroes: She-Hulk.