HUNDREDS of thousands of Scots should receive their winter fuel payments in the summer, a Labour MP has claimed, to let them take advantage of lower prices.

Shadow energy minister Tom Greatrex said the move would help 488,000 Scottish households which are not connected to the mains gas supply.

Getting winter payments – worth between £100 and £300 for all over-60s – in late summer or autumn would allow them to buy heating oil before winter price rises took effect, he said.

The Rutherglen and Hamilton West MP will make the plea at a meeting today with Energy Minister Michael Fallon.

He said: "With almost half- a-million households in Scotland unconnected to the mains gas grid, it is time the Government tackled this problem.

"Most families in Scotland feel the pain of sky-high energy bills, but for those not on the mains grid times are particularly tough. The fact those off the grid are more likely to be in fuel poverty through no fault of their own should act as a wake-up call."

He said the sector should be properly regulated and ministers should heed calls for winter fuel payments to be brought forward.