Pension Age Winter Heating Payment (PAWHP): consultation

This consultation is to gather evidence on people’s views of the current benefit, consider how we could improve the system already in place and ask if the policy intent set out will best meet the needs of those it aims to help.

Section 5 – Request for a Re-determination and Appeals

The Social Security Act (Scotland) 2018 provides a right for an individual to challenge a decision made by Social Security Scotland if they believe it is not right. The individual will be able to ask for a re-determination without having to supply further supporting information, but Social Security Scotland will take into consideration any new information provided that is in relation to the qualifying week.

The focus of the re-determinations approach is on getting the decision right, to have clearly published procedures and timescales for challenging decisions, with meaningful redress, and to have processes in place for Social Security Scotland to put things right quickly where there has been an error.

Unlike the DWP’s Mandatory Reconsideration process that only examines whether the original decision was right or not, Social Security Scotland will put aside the original determination and a different, independent officer will undertake the full process of making a new determination, which will replace the earlier determination completely. A person is not required to provide further supporting information as part of a re-determination, but any new information will be considered should the person choose to do so. If the individual is dissatisfied with the re-determination outcome, or if it has not been completed within the prescribed timescales, then the individual can exercise their right to appeal to the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland (Social Security Chamber).

We have designed a re-determination and appeals process which is informed by lived experience, including their previous experience of the current, DWP process. The Scottish Government has worked closely with Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service in co-designing the appeals process to ensure the individual is at the centre of the process.

5.1 Timescales for the re-determination process

Section 41 (4) of the 2018 Act includes provision to set out the timescales for

requesting a re-determination in regulations. In line with the approach taken for Best

Start Grant, Funeral Support Payment and WHP, we are proposing that a re-determination request relating to PAWHP should be made within 31 calendar days of being notified of the determination. This timescale is the same as the timescale for bringing an appeal to the First-tier Tribunal.

If a request is not made within the 31 days allowed, a request for a re-determination

can still be considered at any point up to a year after being notified of the original

determination, if there is a good reason for the request being made late. In the first instance the Agency will decide whether the reason provided is acceptable. Social Security Scotland will take a supportive role during this late request process and will assess every request individually, on a case-by-case basis. If the request for a late re-determination is refused, the individual will have a right of appeal against this decision to the First-tier Tribunal.

Making a determination on entitlement for PAWHP will be heavily reliant on DWP data, which can increase the time it takes to gather the relevant information to make a re-determination. Given the significant caseload numbers, it is anticipated there may be higher numbers of re-determinations than experienced with WHP. Whilst Social Security Scotland will aim to process re-determination requests as quickly as possible, it is important to ensure that re-determinations timescales are achievable. We propose that, on validation of a request for a re-determination of entitlement to PAWHP, Social Security Scotland should have 56 calendar days, beginning with the day Social Security Scotland validates the request, to make the fresh determination. This period is to be counted from the next working day after Social Security Scotland receives a re-determination request in the format required by the Agency. If there is a failure to make the re-determination within the 56 day period, the individual will be informed that they have a right to appeal to the First-tier Tribunal against the original determination.

Question 14a. Do you agree or disagree with the proposal that clients have 31 days to request a re-determination? (Agree/Disagree/Don’t know)

Question 14b. Please provide further information on why you agree or disagree

Question 15a. We have proposed that Social Security Scotland have a period of 56 working days to consider a re-determination of PAWHP. Do you agree or disagree with this proposal? (Agree/Disagree/Don’t know)

Question 15b. Please provide further information on why you agree or disagree

Question 16. Can you identify any potential unintended consequences which we have not considered in these proposals?



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