By Lucy Ashton
Jackie Baillie has called on the SNP to urgently rethink their “disastrous” new winter heating payment amid fears people will lose out on vital support this winter.
This year lifeline Cold Weather Payments will be replaced with Low Income Winter Heating Assistance – a new devolved Scottish version, which provides a fixed sum instead of paying out based on temperature.
However, in practice this means people could lose out in particularly cold winters.
The new payment has been slated by organisations such as Energy Action Scotland, who branded the current position “potentially catastrophic” and warned that “lives will be lost due to the inadequate level of support provided” in the event of extreme weather or sustained low temperatures.
The charity says explicitly that the new payment will have “less impact on fuel poverty than the benefit it replaces”.
Jackie Baillie, Dumbarton constituency MSP, said: “These changes risk taking money from those who can least afford it and making a bleak winter even more painful.
“I already know that there are thousands of people across West Dunbartonshire, Helensburgh and Lomond who are struggling. Foodbanks are also struggling to cope with demand.
“These payments are a lifeline and it is distressing to think the impact the loss of this money will have on people in need if we continue to see freezing temperatures.
“It is astounding that the SNP would tear up this vital safety net when so many people are already struggling with the worst cost of living crisis in decades.
“The devolution of social security powers to Scotland was supposed to be a chance to build a fairer system, but here the SNP have done the opposite. This disastrous scheme needs an urgent rethink.”
Picture: Pensioner Greg Bell clearing the path to his house in Barloan.
Picture by Bill Heaney