A call has gone out for an immediate increase in the winter fuel allowance paid annually to pensioners to help them meet home heating costs.
The basic allowance has been frozen at year 2000 levels with successive government’s refusing to make any increases – resulting in the value of the allowance falling by almost a quarter in real terms.
That, according to Moray’s MP Angus Robertson, has had a much greater effect on homes in Moray where there is a greater reliance on tanker-delivered oil and gas as a main domestic fuel source.
Mr Robertson is highlighting that it costs significantly more to heat a home in Tomintoul and Glenlivet than it does in the south of England.
Now the MP is asking the UK Government to agree to and immediate transfer of powers for the winter fuel allowance to the Scottish Government where a commitment would be made to keep the allowance rising in line with the cost of living.
Mr Robertson said: “For low-income pensioners in Moray, especially areas like Glenlivet and Tomintoul where winter temperatures significantly increase energy costs, the failure of UK Labour and Tory Governments to keep winter fuel allowance payments in line with energy costs makes their energy budgets very difficult indeed.
“Many pensioners in Moray and across Scotland live on small and modest earnings – the winter fuel allowance is a vital payment and it exists to try and make sure they don’t have to compromise between paying for groceries or heating their homes during the winter months.
“Energy bills have increased by over 37% since 2000-01 and if winter fuel allowance had increased by inflation since 2000-01, pensioners would be £76 better off in 2014-15 than they are.
“The transfer of control of the winter fuel allowance – as recommended by the Smith Commission – is welcome but without any clear timetabling of when this will happen we need immediate action to make sure not one pensioner in Scotland is afraid to put their heating on this winter.”