Page last updated at 11:08 GMT, Thursday, 6 September 2012 12:08 UK

Winter Fuel Allowance Payments Bill

Watch live coverage of MPs debating the Winter Fuel Allowance Payments (Off Gas Grid Claimants) Bill at second reading, on 7 September 2012.

The Winter Fuel Allowance Payments Bill is a private members' bill that is being sponsored by SNP MP Mike Weir.

The bill was presented to Parliament through the ballot procedure, and given its first reading, on 20 June 2012.

The bill would allow for the early payment of the winter fuel allowance to people whose homes are not connected to the mains gas grid and whose principal source of fuel is home fuel oil, liquid petroleum gas or propane gas.

Currently older people can qualify for the winter fuel allowance on the third Monday in September, but Mr Weir is proposing that homes in England, Wales and Scotland not connected to the mains gas should have access to their money in the third week of July instead.

Four million households in the UK are not connected to the mains gas grid and people in this situation generally have very little choice in their source of heating fuel.

Households with oil-fired central heating, and those using solid fuel or liquid petroleum gas to heat their homes, are much more likely to be in fuel poverty than "on-grid" households.

It has been suggested that bringing forward the timing of Winter Fuel Payments for off-grid households might provide some help by enabling them to stock up on fuel at a time of year when prices are likely to lower than in the middle of winter.

Winter fuel payments are worth £200 or £300 per household and are intended to provide reassurance to older people that they can afford to turn up their heating in the coldest winter months.

Payments are usually made between November and the end of the year to those who satisfied the conditions for entitlement during the September "qualifying week".

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