ANGUS MP Mike Weir has pursued his long running campaign for a change in the payment date of winter fuel allowances for off grid pensioners with a debate in the House of Commons.
Mr Weir has previously brought forward a private members bill on the issue. Speaking in the debate, he outlined the problems facing pensioners who are off the gas grid
“Over the past four years the cost of heating an average home with propane or home fuel oil has increased by £850 and £750 respectively, while the cost of gas has increased by £400. Not only are off grid homes more expensive – but the costs are rising much more sharply,” he said.
“Heating a home with LPG costs almost twice that of for heating a home with access to the mains gas grid”.
Mr Weir put forward various options for small amendments to the scheme which would allow the earlier payment of the allowance to off grid pensioners.
Speaking after the debate, the MP said he was disappointed that the Minister seemed to be obsessed with the small bureaucratic difficulties there might be rather that taking strong action to tackle what was a serious problem in many rural areas. He did however welcome the Ministers assurance that he would follow up Mr Weir’s suggestion of speaking to the major suppliers to see if action could be taken to identify and help more vulnerable customers.
“Some of the larger suppliers have expressed interest in, at least, investigating whether they could help more vulnerable consumers, but there are difficulties at present because the law only allows sharing of information with electricity companies for the purposes of the warm home obligation.”
“I put forward the suggestion, as I have previously, that this should be extended to other large providers of off grid consumers and the Minister agreed to this. This could provide valuable help to off grid pensioners.”