Scotland

SNP urges winter fuel payment increase urged

electric fire Image copyright PA
Image caption The value of the winter fuel payment has been frozen since 2001

Immediate action is needed to ensure pensioners in Scotland are not afraid to put their heating on this winter, according to the SNP.

The party highlighted figures which show a freeze on the basic winter fuel allowance since 2001 has resulted in a 25% drop in the value of the payment.

The Smith Commission has recommended control over the benefit is transferred to Holyrood.

The SNP said Westminster should look at increasing the payment in the meantime.

The benefit, of between £200 and £300, is paid every year to those on state pensions.

According to research from the Scottish Parliament's Information Centre (SPICe), this means Scotland's pensioners have seen a 25% fall in the real value of their winter fuel payment.

'Immediate effect'

SNP MSP Chic Brodie, a member of Holyrood's energy, economy and tourism committee, said: "Many pensioners in 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."

He added: "If this Smith Commission recommendation is not passed over with immediate effect then Westminster must in the near future increase the payment in line with inflation."

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