Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has today pressed ministers for a renewed debate on the operation of the Alternative Fuel Payment, citing the “utterly random” delivery of funds to people in the isles. Mr Carmichael noted responses from constituents to his online survey, which found close to a 50-50 split between people using electric heating (which in theory is not eligible for the AFP) who had or had not received the payment. Mr Carmichael previously secured a commitment from ministers not to “claw back” wrongly delivered payments for those on electric heating.
Speaking in the House, Mr Carmichael said:
“Can I renew my call for a debate or a statement on the operation of the Alternative Fuel Payment scheme? I’ve heard from no fewer than 126 constituents who use electricity for the heating of their homes. Almost half of them have received the payment and half of them have not.
“The government has said that they will not claw back payments that have been made incorrectly in these circumstances, so it seems to be utterly random if you get the money or not. At the end of the day it is also exceptionally unfair.”
Responding, the Leader of the House Penny Mordaunt MP said:
“I thank that Hon Gentleman for raising this again. It is a matter that I have raised with the department on a number of occasions. I will do so again after this session, and I will ask the minister to contact his office.”
Reacting after the exchange Mr Carmichael said:
“Weeks on we are still waiting for answers on some pretty basic questions on how this scheme operates. The random delivery of payments to some and not to others seems deeply unfair for those who have missed out.
“The government must step up, end the confusion – and if in doubt, they should deliver a universal payment for those who are off the gas grid in rural and island communities, so that no one is left behind.”