Many households around the UK rely on LPG gas supplies. Such provisions can be particularly important in rural areas where mains gas supplies are not available.
Recently, an MP called for special provisions for pensioners who are not connected to the gas grid. Mike Weir, who represents Angus for the Scottish National Party, suggested that these individuals should be given their winter heating allowance of between £100 and £300 early.
According to the politician, this payment should be provided no later than September 30th to off-gas grid claimants. At present, most payments are made in November and December.
He noted that the changes would not end fuel poverty for those affected. However, he claimed that faster payments would provide some relief to pensioners who find it tough to buy LPG or heating oil before their allowances arrive.
Mr Weir pointed out that while the winter heating allowance tends to be paid at the same time as mains gas bills arrive, it does not come through in time for LPG and heating oil users, who have to pay for their supplies upfront.
The MP is moving a ten-minute rule motion to introduce his Winter Fuel Allowance Payments (Off-Gas Grid Claimants) Bill. It will return to the House of Commons for its second reading on February 28th.
Problems in the middle of winter
Commenting on his motivation for bringing forward the proposed legislation, Me Weir said: “[Pensioners] face the difficulty that they have to pay for their LPG or home fuel oil upfront at the beginning of winter, well before they have the benefit of the winter fuel allowance. Many find it difficult to do so and may well not fill up the tank completely, leaving them having to do so – if they can afford it – in the depths of winter which brings problems of its own in actually getting a supply through very bad weather and that’s a serious problem in many rural areas in past winters.”
He added: “The moving of the date forward could result in some people losing out on the payment in the initial year and I accept this could be a problem but it’s hardly insurmountable.”
Mr Weir suggested that off-gas grid claimants could be treated the same as their on-grid equivalents in their first year after signing up and then be transferred across to the earlier payment date in the second year.
He went on to state: “There is absolutely nothing revolutionary about this proposal. It simply seeks a very minor change to begin to address the problems of off gas grid consumers by targeting a particular vulnerable group.”
Many consumers are feeling the financial squeeze at present. As well as pensioners, working households are having to watch their budgets carefully. It is therefore important that consumers choose their LPG suppliers carefully.
As well as making sure they get a good deal for their gas, people are also eager to benefit from a reliable service. After all, running out of gas supplies at any time of year is inconvenient and during the winter this can be particularly unpleasant, and in some cases even dangerous.
About the Author – Anna Longdin is a freelance blogger has written widely on the subject of home energy for a range of sites, including Calor.
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