David Stewart: We need to look after our old, frail and elderly.

Local MSP David Stewart, Labour, shares his concerns about the elderly

David Stewart MSPIt came to my attention from an elderly constituent who is nearly 80 and lives in the far North, that because she is not on any benefits ie pension benefit or other core benefit, she does not qualify for the warm homes winter energy reduction scheme which is a one off reduction from the energy provider of £140 and reduced from the suppliers electricity bill between September and March.

I really think this is an issue that we need to look into. This constituent is on a low income but just misses out on the criteria to qualify for this benefit.

What we have to remember is that in this case the constituent like many others lives in the far North which is subject to pretty severe weather and because she is just over the threshold to qualify for benefit, she loses out. We need to look after our old, frail and elderly.

Although this part of the Social Security legislation may not have been devolved to the Scottish Government, I have written to the Cabinet Secretary for Social Security and the Older People, Shirley- Anne Somerville, asking her to look at this issue and if the Government do not have the powers yet to deal with this particular matter, to lobby her opposite number in Westminster to see if they can make this benefit available to all those persons 75 and over.

This cap will affect many older people living in parts of the Highlands & Islands that are subjected to some of our worst winter weather and we have to make sure that we provide for their care and well being and we can do this by ensuring that those of a certain age group automatically qualify for such benefits.


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