Over the past few weeks, there has been much said about the SNP's new Elderly Christmas payments system.

Misinformation and scaremongering by the Labour Party means many are confused or worried about how this will affect them and the groups they attend.

I will give you the facts and you can judge for yourselves whether our system is fairer, safer and more inclusive than Labour's policy.

Under Labour, if you lived in Alexandria, Dumbarton or Duntocher, you could only benefit if you were part of a club or group.

If you lived in Clydebank, you went in person to the Town Hall to collect your payment in cash.

In both cases, you had to be 65-years-old to qualify.

Now every resident in West Dunbartonshire aged 60 and over is eligible to receive the grant.

You will have the choice on the form to decide where your money is sent, whether you wish to receive it yourself or donate it to a group.

Police complained that Labour's system endangered staff and pensioners with having annual cash pay-outs over a few days at a publicly advertised time and venue.

Now payments will be sent out by post or paid by bank transfer, removing this unacceptable risk.

Labour have told people that if more people apply than do currently, the amount given out to each individual (currently £15) will fall - not true.

The SNP's policy means that all who apply will receive the full payment of £15.

Many people in Alexandria, Dumbarton and Duntocher are members of more than one group.

Labour say that as people will have to choose whether to give their money to one club, or keep it themselves, this will put clubs at risk - not true.

The SNP administration knows how important the clubs are to the communities.

Under our policy, no club will close or have to cancel their Christmas event.

We will ensure that funds are in place to support any club finding themselves in difficulty.

Given the misinformation and scaremongering by Labour, many have not registered.

The SNP has therefore extended the registration period for another four weeks until September 30 2011.

There are approximately 23,000 people aged 60 or over in West Dunbartonshire.

Under Labour, more than half of those people were excluded and could not benefit from this Christmas payment. I would encourage all those who are now eligible to apply.

To get an application form, you can phone the council, go on the council's website, pick up a form at various council offices including both main buildings at Garshake and Rosebery Place and all of our Housing and Social Services offices and if you receive Home Care, you can ask your carers.

In all instances, staff will be happy to help you fill in the form.

This new policy is fair to all and means that many who have been discriminated against and excluded by Labour will now be included thanks to the SNP.