News

New winter heating benefit

Published: 01 Dec 2021 09:04

Annual investment of £20 million to help low income households.

A consultation has been launched on a new heating benefit that will give around 400,000 low income households the reassurance of a guaranteed £50 payment every winter.

The Low Income Winter Heating Assistance will be introduced from winter 2022 to replace the current UK Government Cold Weather Payment scheme.

The current UK Government benefit triggers a £25 payment only when temperatures are recorded or forecast at below zero degrees Celsius for seven days in a row. The replacement Low Income Winter Heating Assistance benefit from the Scottish Government will provide financial stability, no matter the weather.

Social Security Minister Ben Macpherson said: “Low Income Winter Heating Assistance will be an investment of around £20 million every year to reliably support people towards the costs of heating their homes irrespective of the weather, temperature, or where they live in Scotland.

“Although Cold Weather Payments have been a valuable support for some during periods of very cold weather, there have been some years when hardly any payments have been made at all by the UK Government.

“If winters, as predicted, are due to become generally wetter and warmer then this may also reduce the numbers of Cold Weather Payments in the future. We want people to have certainty about receiving a payment.

“Our proposed new benefit will be the equivalent to two payments of Cold Weather Payment and should ensure that most people will be better off. Significantly, it will also enable us to provide assistance to more households that are at risk of fuel poverty.

“This is another important milestone in our ambitious programme, using the devolved social security powers we have to deliver more effective benefits for the people of Scotland, and is also part of our broader approach to support people who need extra help with heating costs during the coldest months of the year.”

Background 

Consultation on Low Income Winter Heating Assistance

There are currently 27 weather stations used to capture temperatures in Scotland and a cold spell. Last year there were 854,000 payments made to CWP recipients in Scotland totalling more than £21 million.  The year before there were only 7,000 payments totalling less than £250,000. As payments are weather-dependent, overall expenditure fluctuates considerably from year to year (see table below, figures in millions).

 

2011-12

2012-13

2013-14

2014-15

2015-16

2016-17

2017-18

2018-19

2019-20

2020/21

Average

Scotland

2.2

8.4

0.9

7.3

3.5

0.7

21.5

10.2

0.2

21.4

7.6

GB

128.7

141.7

8.4

11.0

3.9

3.2

114.3

27.0

0.2

100.8

53.9

Scotland

% of GB Spend

2%

6%

10%

66%

89%

23%

19%

38%

100%

21%

14%