Scotland is facing a “humanitarian emergency”, Nicola Sturgeon said as she announced her programme for government for the coming year.
The First Minister promised emergency legislation banning evictions, a rent freeze, a ScotRail fare freeze and an increase in the Scottish Child Payment.
Opposition parties have accused the government of ‘attention grabbing’ headlines with the substance of the plans lacking.
Anas Sarwar, Scottish Labour leader said the Scottish Government is not doing enough “in their powers” to change people’s lives.
However, in an interview with BBC Good Morning Scotland, Shona Robison, the cabinet secretary for social justice, housing and local government, said the Scottish Government is doing all it can to help those suffering from the cost of living crisis.
The rent freeze to last until March next year does not apply to those in the social sector as those rents are sent in the financial year (next year) and will be reviewed in April.
Ms Robison said social rents are “much lower” than the private rented sector, adding the government “wants to work with the social rented sector to discuss what happens after March next year”.
The MSP said the Scottish Government will be talking with the social sector about whether a cap should apply to social rents after March.
Ms Robison said: “These are exceptional measures for exceptional pressures to try and ensure that people can try and remain living in their home.”
The government wants to work with landlords and tenants, according to Ms Robison who added it is not an “unreasonable ask” to freeze rents.
Evictions will still be able to proceed if there is anti-social or criminal behaviour and the government is looking at whether there are further safeguards to consider.
"We want to prevent people being evicted because of a cost of living crisis, because they can’t afford to pay their rent,” Ms Robison said, “People who can pay their rent but refuse to do so would have to be looked at in a case-by-case basis.”
The ScotRail fare freeze announced has also faced criticism as it will last for only two months next year as the new rate is set in January.
However, Ms Robison said this will be “under review” as she said the government is “pulling out all the stops” to help with the cost of living crisis.
Ms Robison said: "Those discussions will continue to be had about whether a further restriction is required on rail fares. We are going to have to work through the next few months, keeping a very close eye on the economy, costs, on what the UK Government is going to do and they need to do more to support household budgets. What we are doing within the very limited powers we have is to take the action we can take but of course keep all of this under review.
"If there’s more we can do, we can of course look and see what more we can do.”