A “blunder” by the SNP government means 4900 pensioners in South Lanarkshire will miss out on early winter fuel payments, according to local Labour MSP Claudia Beamish.
She said that both Scottish Labour and the SNP made manifesto commitments to offer early winter fuel payments to those who live off-grid, such as homes without access to mains gas.
Making early payments would allow pensioners to stock-up on supplies and take advantage of low prices before winter. Figures provided by the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) reveal 4900 older households in South Lanarkshire would be able to take advantage of the change.
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.
Ms Beamish, said: “Rural living is expensive and many live off grid with no access to mains gas. The cost of alternative fuel becomes more manageable if people can stockpile supplies when prices are low before the winter months.
“It is therefore concerning that the Scottish Government have failed to act quickly enough over changes to the pensioner’s winter fuel payment which would bring forward the payment from December to earlier in the year making money available to people when supplies are cheaper. I raised this issue and wider concerns about rural fuel poverty for rural constituents in the debate on the new Scottish Government Route Map to Energy efficiency. However, there was no response from the Minister in his closing remarks. I will now be writing to him.
“Pensioners who are the most vulnerable in our communities are being let down by this lack of promised action.”