The Conservative government may try to “cynically use the war in Ukraine as a cover” for its own failure, blaming the cost-of-living crisis on Vladimir Putin’s invasion, it has been warned.

The warnings come from senior SNP officials, following one issued by money-saving expert Martin Lewis last week.

Lewis (below) told BBC Radio 4: “We are seeing what could be a deliberate narrative shift which effectively says the whole cost of living crisis is due to Ukraine and therefore we all have to make sacrifices and that is not right.”

He added: “What happened in Ukraine exacerbated the situation. But hikes in energy, fuel oil, water, housing tax, broadband and mobiles, food, national insurance, were all in place before Ukraine.

“We are going to see a real increase in real poverty in this country.”

Lewis said “genuine political intervention”, not further belt-tightening, was needed to deal with the crisis.

The warnings were echoed by SNP shadow chancellor Alison Thewliss, who also called for a package of measures to be put in place by Rishi Sunak’s Treasury.

These should include an actual living wage and grants instead of energy ‘loans’ which Westminster must give to every British citizen, before having them repaid over five years.

Thewliss said: “The UK government cannot be allowed to hide behind the war in Ukraine as an excuse for the Conservatives’ spiraling cost of living crisis, when for many months the SNP has warned that the families were struggling.

“This conservative crisis has been going on for a decade. Rishi Sunak must not cynically use the war in Ukraine as a cover for years of conservative failure. Every day the British government does not use its reserved powers to fight the cost of living, it demonstrates that independence is the only way for Scotland to increase its income and build a fairer society.

Ian Blackford, the SNP leader at Westminster, added: ‘Families need urgent help – no more excuses.

“[Thewliss] is right that the Chancellor should not use Ukraine as an excuse for years of Conservative failure and inaction on the economy.

The Bank of England is expected to raise interest rates again on Thursday, but faces an escalating dilemma as the Ukraine conflict poses a dual threat to inflation and economic growth.

Experts are now predicting that inflation could exceed the Bank’s 7.25% forecast to more than 8% in April – or even double digits – as the Ukraine crisis and sanctions on Russia drive it up even higher fuel and energy prices.