A Renfrewshire MP has hailed the introduction of a new heating benefit as a “gamechanger”.
The new Winter Heating Payment has begun processing payments, with the first money hitting bank accounts over coming weeks.
Winter Heating Payment (WHP) replaced the Department for Work and Pensions’ Cold Weather Payment, and unlike the DWP benefit it replaces, WHP is paid automatically to eligible people rather than be triggered by cold weather.
Previous winters have seen few payments to households, with only 13,000 across the whole of Scotland last year, all in Aberdeenshire and Highland.
The new payment will mean £20 million paid out over February and March, with each eligible person receiving £50 automatically and no application needed.
The Scottish Government took over responsibility for the payments from this year, with future payments made in Scotland rather than the UK DWP.
The SNP’s MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, Gavin Newlands MP, welcomed the roll out of the payment.
He said: “This new payment is a real gamechanger for households across the county who are struggling with heating costs at a time of huge pressure on people’s finances.
“Not a single household in Renfrewshire received a penny to help with heating costs last winter, and across Scotland on average less than 200,000 people got a single payment over any of the last seven years.
“In contrast every single eligible person will automatically receive the new Winter Heating Payment, rather than having to wait for sustained freezing weather to trigger payments.
“That means 400,000 people – including thousands in Renfrewshire – will receive £50 in their bank account over the coming weeks, with next year’s payment coming in at over £55 to track the cost of living.
“The Scottish Government’s £20 million investment in boosting benefits means real help to tackle fuel poverty, and shows why full control over the social security system should be transferred to Scotland as quickly as possible to a government that actually want to do something that helps people.”