An Angus MSP has welcomed a commitment from the Scottish Government to consider the early payment of the Winter Fuel Allowance to people who live off grid.
Graeme Dey, the MSP for Angus South, is backing the initiative.
The issue is something that the MP for Angus, Mike Weir, has been campaigning on for a number of years.
The Scotland Bill, which is currently going through the House of Lords, contains proposals to devolve powers relating to the Winter Fuel Allowance from Westminster to the Scottish Parliament.
Mr Weir has for some time been working to help those pensioners who live off grid receive these payments early, thereby allowing them to purchase fuel ahead of any winter time price hike, including trying to take legislation through the UK Parliament which would have led to this.
The MSP for Angus South raised the matter with John Swinney MSP, the Deputy First Minister, in Parliament and was told: “I am aware of Mr Weir’s efforts. That is a point of detail about the operation of the winter fuel allowance that the Government will be happy to consider.
“Through the fairer Scotland process, which is being presided over by the Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Communities and Pensioners’ Rights, Alex Neil, we are having an on-going discussion about how effective the winter fuel payment can be at particular stages in the year in supporting individuals. As part of the wider consultation on implementation of the new powers under the Smith commission, we will consider carefully the suggestion that Graeme Dey has made.”
Graeme Dey MSP said: “I welcome this commitment from the Deputy First Minister to consider this proposal. If this change were to be implemented, it would allow people who live off grid to purchase fuel oil when it is cheaper to do so.
“The SNP will use any new powers that come to the Scottish Parliament to create a fairer and more prosperous country-the early payment of the Winter Fuel Allowance to people who live off grid would help, albeit in a small way, to achieve this.
“I look forward to continuing my discussions with the Scottish Government on this matter and hopefully achieving what Mike Weir tried so hard to do when the power lay at Westminster.”
Mike Weir MP commented: “ I have pursued this issue for several years through various Energy Bills and a Private Members Bill but successive UK governments have failed to take action.”
“There are a large number of homes in Angus and throughout rural Scotland who rely on home heating oil or LPG for their heating and cooking and winter fuel prices are always a worry. The ability to fill up the tanks before the onset of winter would give them a valuable opportunity to take advantage of lower prices.”
“I am pleased that the Scottish Government are looking at the change which would give real benefit to off gas grid consumers for little or no cost to the Government.”