Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP, Angus MacNeil is supporting the SNP’s call for an increase in the Winter Fuel Allowance (WFA).

New research from the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) reveals the UK Government’s freeze on the basic payment level since 2000-01 by both Labour and Tory governments has resulted in the value dropping by 24.6% in real terms.

Mr MacNeil has co-sponsored a motion at Westminster, uniting with some Labour MPs and backbenchers of other parties, in a motion to equalise the electricity costs throughout the country from the current regime, set up over a decade ago.  Mr MacNeil has also called for a fairer electricity pricing structure, highlighting that electricity prices were 3%-14% (across the range of energy companies) more expensive in the Hebrides than in London.

Commenting, Angus MacNeil MP 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.  In ten years of a Labour government, followed by five years of Tory/Liberal government, Winter Fuel Allowance has not increased at all, but in fact has resulted in the value dropping by 24.6% in real terms.

“There are two issues here, firstly, the devolution of the electricity pricing structure and secondly, the devolution of the Winter Fuel Allowance and the two are of course connected.

“The transfer of control of the winter fuel allowance – as recommended by the Smith Commission – is welcomed 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.  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.  The UK Government needs to take action on the electricity pricing differential to ease the pressure on families.

“I have co-sponsored a motion at Westminster working with MPs cross-party to try and bring to an end the surcharges in rural and island communities.  Bringing an end to the pricing differential will also help make the Winter Fuel Allowance go further.

“The SNP will continue to campaign for full powers on welfare and pensions and will use these to make Scotland a fairer, more prosperous place and we will argue at next year’s general election for full welfare and pension powers to be transferred to Scotland –  to ensure our older people get a fair deal.”