Falkirk West MSP Michael Matheson, has welcomed a Private Members’ Bill that would help off-grid pensioner households beat soaring winter energy costs which is to be launched by SNP MP Mike Weir this week.

Mr Weir – one of just 20 MPs successful in a ballot to present a Bill in the House of Commons – said the Bill (the Winter Fuel Allowance Payments (Off-Grid Claimants) Bill) would provide for the early payment of Winter Fuel Allowance to pensioners whose homes are not connected to the mains grid and whose principal source of fuel is home fuel oil, liquid petroleum gas or propane gas.

Bringing forward payment of Winter Fuel Allowance would allow vulnerable consumers to fill up their tanks prior to the onset of winter and at a time when prices tend to be lower. Mr Weir, who has long campaigned on the difficulties faced by off-gas grid energy consumers, now hopes to build cross-party support for the proposal. Mr Weir’s Bill will formally be presented to Parliament on Wednesday 20 June.

Commenting on this, Mr Matheson said:

“I welcome the Bill that Mike is putting forward as many of my constituents in the more rural parts of Falkirk West are “off-grid” and are hit hardest at the worst time of the year.

“I would encourage people living in my constituency to write to their MP, to urge him to support this Bill, as it will give real help to those who need it.

“To bring payments forward would mean very little to the Treasury as the cost would be the same as if the payments were left as they are. The difference, however, would be that many elderly people would not be left in the predicament where they have to decide whether to eat or heat their home”.