South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has called on the SNP to take up Scottish Labour’s plans to expand the Winter Fuel Payment, after new figures revealed it could help almost 20,000 people in Dumfries and Galloway.
Last week Scottish Labour called on the government to introduce a £70 winter fuel supplement for low-income pensioners and struggling families, as the cost of living crisis looms.
On October 1 the energy price cap rose by £139 – the largest increase in history. In contrast, the rate of Winter Fuel Payment has been frozen since 2011. Campaign groups have warned that the energy price rise and sky-high energy prices will lead to preventable deaths
The Scottish Parliament has the power to take action to expand Winter Fuel Payments and alleviate fuel poverty, which affects an estimated 600,000 people across Scotland – but the SNP has delayed the devolution of the benefit from the Department of Work and Pensions for up to 4 years.
Now, Scottish Labour are urging the Government to use the powers they have to try and ensure no-one faces a choice between heating and eating this winter.
Colin Smyth said: “This winter too many local people are facing fuel poverty as energy prices spiral out of control.
“The Scottish Parliament can make a difference here. We have the powers to ensure payments reflect the pressures on fuel poor households – but the SNP have delayed taking responsibility.
“No-one should have to face a choice between heating and eating this winter. That’s why Labour would give people struggling with fuel poverty £70 now to help them through the winter months.
“The Scottish Government’s warm words are cold comfort if they fail to act.
“The winter months are fast approaching and we have a cost of living crisis escalating by the day – there is no time to waste.
“The SNP must back this policy now and start moving to get this money in people’s pockets, it could be a real lifeline for so many local people.”