Lib Dems call for doubling of Warm Home Discount to prevent pensioners going cold this winter

Bud Neill’s poem is so memorable, but some of us don’t think winter is “diabolic”. The snow creates beautiful scenes and interesting light as in this picture taken by Bill Heaney at Maryland Farm above Garshake and below the Long Crags in Dumbarton.

Winter’s come, the snow has fell
Wee Josie’s nose is froze as well
Wee Josie’s frozen nose is skintit
…..Winter’s diabolic, intit?

Bud Neill

James Joyce’s books may well be in a different section in Dumbarton Library, but he too had a special place in his heart for the white stuff:

Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, further westwards, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves. It was falling too upon every part of the lonely churchyard where Michael Furey lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.

The Dead
James Joyce

And then of course there is the inimitable Canadian poet Robert Frost:

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
Many people, especially the frail and elderly, love these poems but dread the coming of winter, especially since they know that their lives will be in jeopardy the further the mercury drops.

This year they are more worried that ever in light of the soaring energy prices which could be four times what they have been this year.

That is why Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton and Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey have today called on the UK Government to double the Warm Home Discount for existing recipients and make it available to over 22,000 extra pensioners across Scotland.

The measure would prevent pensioners being forced to “choose between eating and heating this winter”, say the Lib Dems.

The call comes amid fears that residents, particularly pensioners on low incomes, could be at risk of hypothermia from the energy crisis this winter.

The Warm Home Discount, funded by energy firms, is due to give people £140 off their electricity bill. It is available to those who receive the ‘Guarantee Credit’ element of pension credit as well as some people on low incomes.

Tory PM Boris Johnston and LibDem Alex Cole Hamilton.

The LibDem are calling on Boris Johnston – currently sunning himself in Marbella after his conference comedy turn in Brighton – to take on the cost of the Warm Home Discount and immediately double its value to £280, helping pensioners cope with soaring bills this winter.

Currently £15,689,800 is spent on the Warm Home Discount in Scotland. Under LibDem plans this funding would rise to over £37,500,000.

Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP said: “Boris Johnston’s Conservatives are pushing the most vulnerable pensioners and families into a cost of living crisis. We are seeing a double whammy of rising bills and the slashing of vital support.

“Nobody should have to choose between heating and eating this winter. We simply cannot allow those who are already struggling to bear the brunt of this government’s terrible mistakes.

“Scottish Liberal Democrats are calling for an extra £22 million pounds to help people across Scotland cope with soaring bills this winter.”

National party leader Ed Davey MP added: “If Boris Johnson has any interest in offering the most vulnerable in society a fair deal, he will listen to this Liberal Democrat proposal to double and extend the Warm Home Discount to the people who really need help.

“Scotland has some of the least energy efficient buildings in Europe, and rural areas typically have it the worst.  With energy prices increasing this winter, this is set to get even worse.”

Meanwhile, responding to new figures released today by Public Health Scotland showing that the 23,370 winter deaths in 2020/21 is the second highest number of winter deaths in the last 30 years, Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “Last year mortality soared as we were struck by a once in a century global pandemic. This was made all the worse by a lack of preparation and a series of questionable ministerial decisions.

“This year, with vaccines on hand and months to prepare, SNP ministers will not have the same excuse.

“Staff and patients are already ringing alarm bells. Our NHS needs a champion to lead it through the winter months, not a casual and disinterested Health Secretary and his half-hearted recovery plan.”


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