The Scottish National Party’s Mr Pete Wishart MP, Member of Parliament for Perth & North Perthshire, has given his backing to a further attempt by his colleague, SNP Energy Spokesperson Mike Weir, MP for Angus, to persuade the UK government to make a simple change to payment of winter fuel allowances that would help off-grid pensioner households beat soaring winter energy costs this week.
Mr Weir had previously brought forward the Winter Fuel Allowance Payments (Off-Grid Claimants) Bill, which would provide for the early payment of Winter Fuel Allowance to pensioners whose homes are not connected to the mains grid and whose principal source of fuel is home fuel oil, liquid petroleum gas or propane gas. Unfortunately that bill was talked out. Mr Weir has now reintroduced the bill and will present it in the Commons today (Wednesday) in another attempt to get the government to address the issue.
Giving the move his full support, Mr Wishart said:
“Bringing forward payment of Winter Fuel Allowance would allow vulnerable consumers to fill up their tanks prior to the onset of winter and at a time when prices tend to be lower.
“Mike Weir has campaigned long and hard on the difficulties faced by off-gas grid energy consumers and I am delighted to give my support to his Bill which could go some way to helping a particularly vulnerable group.
“There are huge problems with the off gas grid fuel market that hits rural areas very badly and many of my constituents are affected.
“Whilst all households have been hit by rocketing energy prices, off-grid customers, who have no access to the reduced tariffs available to mains gas customers or any real possibility of taking the UK government’s advice to switch suppliers, are especially vulnerable.
“This Bill would bring forward payment of the pensioners winter fuel allowance earlier in the year so households can fill their tanks prior to the onset of winter and when fuel prices tend to be cheaper.
“The whole purpose of the winter fuel allowance was to provide help to pensioners when their main winter bill arrives. The system works for those who pay by quarterly bills but does not work for off grid consumers who have to pay in advance to fill up their tanks.
“This proposal will not solve all the problems faced by fuel oil customers let alone consumers of energy in general but it would go some way to helping a particularly vulnerable group.”