The LibDems have called for the £140 warm housing discount to be immediately doubled – accusing the UK Government of “pushing the most vulnerable pensioners and families into a cost of living crisis” this winter.
The warm home discount scheme allows those eligible to receive £140 off their energy bill this winter. It is available to those who receive the ‘guarantee credit’ element of pension credit as well as some people on low incomes.
But Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton and Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey have today called on the UK Government to double the scheme for existing recipients and make it available to over 22,000 extra pensioners across Scotland.
The LibDems have claimed the action would prevent pensioners being forced to “choose between eating and heating this winter”.
The call comes amid fears that residents, particularly pensioners on low incomes, could be at risk from the energy crisis this winter – with soaring energy bills and other costs.
Currently £15,689,800 is spent on the warm home discount in Scotland, while the LibDem plans this funding would rise to more than £37,500,000.
Mr Cole-Hamilton said: “The 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.”
The party has pointed to Orkney where around one third of households are in fuel poverty and more than one in five are in extreme poverty and are spending more than 20% of their income on heating.
Mr Davey said his party’s plans would increase support on Orkney, where he is visiting today, from £56,700 to £135,240.
He said: “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.”
The UK Government has been contacted for comment.