SNP seek assurances over rural fuel discount scheme

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The SNP has called for assurances that the introduction of a rural fuel discount scheme will not be delayed after the Treasury admitted that it was reviewing how the scheme would be delivered amid fears it could force rural petrol stations out of business.

Retailers have complained that they will struggle to meet the upfront costs of the 5p-per-litre discount which is due to be piloted on Scottish islands.

Businesses could wait up to two-months to see the discount refunded to them by the Treasury.

Western Isles MP and SNP Westminster Transport spokesperson Angus MacNeil MP called on Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander, also a Highland MP, to guarantee that there would be no delay to the scheme being introduced.

Mr MacNeil said: “With fuel prices higher than ever, people in rural areas cannot afford any delay in the introduction of a discount scheme. Equally, rural filling stations cannot be left to bear the burden of Treasury delays in refunding the discount.

“This is a Treasury problem and Danny Alexander, as Chief Secretary and as a Highland MP, must step in to ensure that, firstly, the scheme is not delayed and, secondly, that businesses and jobs are not put at risk by Treasury delays.

“It is simply unacceptable that in energy-rich Scotland, motorists and businesses are facing pump prices that have reached over £1.50 a litre in some areas.

“Coupled with the UK Government’s VAT rise, 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.”