A blunder by the SNP Government means 7,800 pensioners in Dumfries and Galloway will miss out on early winter fuel payments, Scottish Labour has revealed.

Both Scottish Labour and the SNP made manifesto commitments to offer early winter fuel payments to those who live off-grid, such as homes that do not have access to mains gas and therefore have to buy oil or calor-gas tanks.

Making early payments would allow pensioners to stock-up on supplies and take advantage of prices which are always lower before winter.

Figures provided by the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) reveal 7,800 pensioners in Dumfries and Galloway households would be able to take advantage of the change.

Such a change would take around 18 months to introduce, according to the SNP’s Social Security Minister Jeane Freeman. But in response to a UK 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.

South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth said, “These are deeply worrying reports. Providing early winter fuel payments to the 7,800 pensioners in Dumfries and Galloway who live off-grid would allow them to prepare for winter properly and take advantage of lower fuel prices.

Older households in rural areas like Dumfries and Galloway are more likely to suffer from rural poverty but instead of taking action SNP Ministers prefer to drag their heels rather than introduce this important measure which could help relieve fuel poverty.

The SNP has already failed to deliver early payments for this winter, which was one of the harshest on record and now it seems it will not be delivered in time for next winter either. It’s time for the SNP to spell out when these early payments will actually be delivered

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