Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus MacNeil has welcomed the announcement that a Private Member’s Bill sponsored by SNP MP Mike Weir, that would help off-grid pensioner households, beat soaring winter energy costs will receive its second reading in the House of Commons on 7 September.

The bill, if passed would allow the payment of the winter fuel allowance to pensioners, who are not on the gas grid, earlier in the year, to allow them to fill up their tanks before the onset of winter, when prices tend to be cheaper and also to avoid delivery difficulties in adverse weather conditions. Off grid households do not benefit from special tariffs available to help “mains” energy customers, nor are they able to follow UK Government advice to “switch” suppliers since a virtual monopoly exists in many areas.

Angus MacNeil commented:

“I am pleased to see that this bill has received cross party support and that there is the will from all parties to help fuel poor pensioners whose homes are not connected to the mains gas grid.

“There is clear evidence that the price of home fuel oil rises rapidly from October onwards and then begins to fall again in the spring. At present winter fuel allowances are paid out in December, which tends to be when prices are high.

“The bill would provide a simple change that means that pensioners could receive their winter fuel allowance earlier to allow the tank to be filled prior to the usual winter price rise. It would give such households the comfort of knowing that they would be going into the winter with a full tank.”