AS THE long awaited fuel discount scheme pilot starts tomorrow (Thursday, March 1st), concerns have been raised by the SNP regarding a loophole which means hauliers receive no benefit from the plan.
And row broke out between LibDem MPs over whether island motorists will actually see any benefit of the 5p/litre fuel discount scheme because of recent price hikes.
When the pilot begins tomorrow the discount will only be available on fuel drawn from service pumps, and not fuel delivered in bulk to hauliers, for example; and SNP Westminster Transport spokesman, and Western Isles MP, Angus MacNeil is now calling for the Treasury to take action to address this problem.
Mr MacNeil said: “The whole point of this scheme was to help households and businesses with the soaring cost of fuel, but before the pilot is even underway the Treasury have excluded hauliers from the benefits of the scheme.
“This is a Treasury problem and Danny Alexander, as Chief Secretary and as a Highland MP, must step in to ensure that hauliers are not excluded from this scheme.” Meanwhile, speaking on BBC GMS this morning (Wednesday, February 29th), LibDem Whip Alistair Carmichael, who represents Orkney and Shetland, warned that there was a danger people would not benefit from the discount because fuel prices had increased by 5p over recent weeks, while his LibDem colleague and Treasury Minister attacked “naysayers” claiming the scheme would make a difference.
Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil commented: “It is clear from the contradictions between Danny Alexander and Alistair Carmichael that there are growing doubts about how effective the pilot will be. It’s less than ‘terrific’ to see a discount disappear in a week of price rises.
“The average fuel prices have increased by almost 20p/litre since Danny Alexander fist mooted the idea of a discount scheme and there are clearly real questions over whether people will feel the benefit of the discount.”
He added: “It is imply unacceptable that in energy-rich Scotland, motorists and businesses are struggling to cope with prices at the pump. These record fuel costs are putting a huge and unnecessary amount of pressure on our communities and on vital sectors of the Scottish economy, and risk choking the recovery we are building in Scotland.”
To read more about how the Fuel Rebate scheme may affect the Western Isles, read the Stornoway Gazette, due out on Thursday, March 1st.