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Stone to meet UK Government over hardships being faced by pensioners in the Highlands

By Gordon Calder

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FAR north MSP, Jamie Stone, is to have a meeting with the UK Government over the hardships being faced by pensioners in the Highlands.

The Caithness, Sutherland and easter Ross MP raised the issue in the House of Commons and stressed that increased living costs "have hit pensioners in the Highlands particularly hard."

He said 25 per cent of people in his constituency are aged 65 and over, making the Highlands among the highest proportion of the population with pensioners in Scotland.

Age UK has found that in this area, 47 per cent of over 50s are spending less on socialising because of the cost-of-living crisis, despite 58 per cent of this group expressing feelings of loneliness some, most, or all of the time.

The Liberal Democrat MP said: "I know from my clinics, and simply from talking to people in the street or supermarket, just how much pensioners are worried about the cost-of-living crisis.

"Highlanders have never faced the same costs as those living in the central belt, and the same goes for cost increases. The prices for running a car, buying groceries, and heating homes have disproportionately rocketed for those in the far north and it's about time the government brought in special measures to address this."

Jamie Stone is to meet the government on hardships being faced by pensioners in the Highlands
Jamie Stone is to meet the government on hardships being faced by pensioners in the Highlands

Mr Stone added:"It is encouraging that the government has offered to speak with me about this. Loneliness is its own epidemic in the Highlands, and this should be carefully considered when it comes to support for elderly folk who are now having to stay at home more just to cut down on spending."

Speaking in the debate, he urged the UK Government to look at ways of helping the hard-hit pensioners in the Highlands.

Replying the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Mel Stride, said: "We do look at particularly targeting harder-hit pensioners through pension credit, and I know that my Honourable Friend has done a huge amount for example to promote that. But we're always open to having further ideas and discussions, and if the Honourable Gentleman would like to come forward with further ideas then that's something we would certainly welcome."

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