9 May 2018

A blunder by the SNP government means 4,200 pensioners in the Western Isles will miss out on early winter fuel payments, Scottish Labour can reveal.

Both Scottish Labour and the SNP made manifesto commitments to offer early winter fuel payments to those who live off-grid, such as homes that do not have access to mains gas.

Making early payments would allow pensioners to stock-up on supplies and take advantage of low prices before winter. The figures were provided by the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe).

Such a change would take around 18 months to introduce, according to the SNP government. But in response to a parliamentary question, it has emerged SNP ministers have yet to have any discussions about introducing early payments – meaning pensioners will again miss out on earlier payments this year.

Scottish Labour’s Rhoda Grant MSP, member for the Highlands and Islands, said:

“These are deeply worrying reports.

“Giving early winter fuel payments to the pensioner households who live off-grid would allow them to prepare for winter properly, as well as take advantage of lower prices.

“These figures show this would help pensioners, particularly those in rural areas more likely to be suffering cold, damp winters of fuel poverty.

“Yet it seems the SNP ministers are content to drag their heels and not introduce this important measure.

“SNP MSPs were elected on a manifesto commitment to deliver early winter fuel payments – and they should explain why it is now not being delivered.

“The SNP has already failed to deliver early payments for this winter – one of the worst on record – and now it seems it will not be delivered in time for next winter either.

“The SNP’s timidity and lack of action is failing pensioners in the Western Isles. It’s time for the SNP to spell out when these early payments will actually be delivered.”

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