The SNP has today highlighted the need for a rise in Winter Fuel Allowance (WFA) for Scotland’s pensioners so they feel safe in the knowledge that they can afford to heat their homes this Christmas and New Year.
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.
Both Labour and Tory governments have not increased the value of Winter Fuel Allowance paid to pensioners since 2000-01 – the value has since fallen by 24.6% in real terms (2000-01 to 2012-13).
However, energy bills has increased by 37.8% since 2000-01. If WFA had increased by inflation since 2000-01, pensioners would be £76 better off in 2014-15 than they are.
SNP MSP Chic Brodie, a member of the Energy, Economy and Tourism Committee, said Westminster must now make a commitment to transfer the powers over the WFA at once or commit to ensuring it keeps pace with the cost of living by increasing it in line with inflation.
Commenting, Mr Brodie said:
“This is just the latest example of Westminster’s sustained attack on the poor – and this time it is Scotland’s poorer pensioners who are the victims of Tory and Labour neglect.
“Many pensioners in Scotland live on small and modest earnings – the winter fuel allowance is a vital payment and it exits 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.
“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 SNP will continue to campaign for full powers on welfare and pensions and will use these to make Scotland a fairer, more prosperous place, we will argue at next year’s general election to argue for full welfare and pension powers to be transferred to Scotland – to ensure our older people get a fair deal.”