Section 3 – Policy Objectives of Low Income Winter Heating Assistance
The Scottish Government previously intended to replace the current DWP CWP with a very similar benefit but to look at ways of improving it. We know that the difference in weather conditions between some areas and the location of the weather stations which would trigger a CWP is a source of frustration to some people. Similarly the exclusive reliance on temperature rather than other factors such as wind chill can make some people feel that they are not being treated fairly under the current scheme. An Experience Panel survey undertaken in February 2020 showed that many felt that the requirement for seven consecutive days of low temperature was also prohibitive, and left people feeling unable to heat their homes even in very cold weather.
We now consider that the best way to address these weaknesses is not to add further complexity to the benefit e.g. by creating more weather stations or adding more ways of determining cold weather. Instead we intend to remove the dependence on cold weather altogether and acknowledge that, regardless of temperature it is more likely to be difficult for people on low income benefits to spend more money to heat their homes in the winter. Whether that is because of the weather, the cost of fuel or the efficiency of their heating system or insulation, it will still require them to spend more money.
Under these new arrangements everyone in Scotland who would have been eligible for CWP if the weather conditions had been met in their location, will in future be awarded a single annual payment of £50 each winter instead.
This new benefit will be provided to those receiving Pension Credit, Income Support, income-based Jobseekers Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Universal Credit and Support for Mortgage Interest. As with the current CWP, additional qualifying criteria for some of these benefits may also need to be satisfied e.g. in relation to disability premiums paid to the client or if a disabled child is in their household.
By removing the link between additional support and weather we will provide certainty for low income households about the extra help they will get, regardless of the actual temperature each day. It will also enable us to provide assistance to more households that are at risk of fuel poverty.
Simplifying the benefit will also make it possible for us to deliver it more quickly than a benefit with more complex additional eligibility criteria.
In the following section we will first give an overview of the UK Government’s current CWP and then set out in more detail our intended approach to the introduction of LIWHA in Scotland.
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