The Scottish Government has committed to replacing the UK Government's Cold Weather Payment (CWP) of £25 for every 7 day period of very cold weather. From winter 2022, the proposed Low Income Winter Heating Assistance (LIWHA) will see a new £50 winter heating payment paid annually to those low income households currently eligible for the CWP. This will be an investment of around £20 million every year and support 400,000 low income households with their energy bills.
On 1st December 2021 the Scottish Government (SG) published a consultation paper seeking views on the introduction of LIWHA. The paper provides an overview of the aims of LIWHA, its key eligibility criteria and format. It also outlines how the Scottish Government intends to deliver the new benefit through Social Security Scotland to provide assistance to individuals to help towards meeting heating costs in winter.
The consultation contained 38 questions and ran for twelve weeks. It included 16 agree/disagree questions about specific elements of the proposal, each with an open comments box which invited any respondents who disagreed with a particular aspect of LIWHA to explain why, and a further 6 open-ended questions. The questions covered the format, amount and timing of the payment, the removal of the cold spell criteria, eligibility and qualifying criteria, and the redetermination and appeals process. More broadly, there were also questions which invited respondents to share views on the policy and identify any gaps in knowledge or unintended consequencesit might cause. A list of the consultation questions is provided in Appendix A.
During the consultation process, the Scottish Government held an engagement event with stakeholders in January 2022. A summary of the points raised during the event is included in this analysis.
The consultation is an opportunity for the Scottish Government to understand a wide variety of stakeholders' views on the proposed new benefit, which will shape the final implementation of LIWHA to ensure it is delivered with dignity, respect and fairness.
Profile of respondents
In total, 119 consultation responses were received. Most were submitted via the online consultation platform, Citizen Space. Those received in an alternative format, for example, a PDF document, were entered into Citizen Space by the Scottish Government. Full responses to the consultation, where permission for publication was granted, can be found on the Scottish Government's website.
Individuals provided 83 responses to the consultation; the remaining 36 were from organisations. Appendix B details the profile of organisations that took part in the consultation. The largest share of organisational responses came from the third sector (19) and local authorities / community councils (9).
The Lines Between was commissioned to provide robust, independent analysis of the consultation responses. This report presents the range of views expressed by consultation respondents. A public consultation means anyone can express their views; individuals and organisations with an interest in the topic are more likely to respond than those without. This self-selection means the views of consultation respondents do not necessarily represent of the views of the general population.
Quantitative analysis approach
The analysis of responses to each question begins with a summary of the closed question data. This shows the number and percentage of all 119 respondents who agreed with each proposal, who disagreed and who were unsure. These percentages illustrate the range of opinion held by consultation respondents. As this sample is self-selecting, no conclusions can be drawn about the level of support or opposition among the general public. In addition, Appendix C includes the percentage scores for individual respondents and for organisations to illustrate how views differ by type of respondent.
Qualitative analysis approach
Key themes identified in responses to each question are outlined in the qualitative analysis. The analyst team coded each response using a coding framework which was developed based on a review of the consultation questions and a sample of responses. In instances where a response contained information that did not align to specific questions, analysts exercised judgement about the most relevant place to include this material for analysis purposes.
When reviewing the qualitative analysis, the following points should be noted:
- There was significant repetition of views within and across questions. In particular, some respondents expressed the same or a very similar view at most questions. While all views are valid and are included in this report, to avoid excessive repetition analysts have exercised judgement on the most appropriate place to summarise each theme.
- A few organisations gave detailed responses covering matters of their own expertise. These included: Citizens Advice Scotland, Inclusion Scotland, Poverty & Inequality Commission for Scotland, Energy Action Scotland, Scottish Federation of Housing Associations, and Age Scotland. There is not scope in this report to reiterate the detail of these responses, but key points have been summarised where possible.
- Open-ended questions asked respondents who disagreed with a particular aspect of LIWHA to explain why. Many common themes in responses therefore focus on concerns about the proposals, and how they could be overcome, rather than positive aspects of the proposals and reasons for support.
- Where appropriate, quotes from individuals and organisations are included to illustrate key points and provide examples, insights and contextual information.
Weight of opinion
While qualitative analysis of open-ended questions does not permit the quantification of results, we signify the weight of a particular view using the following framework which indicates which are the most common or prevalent themes across responses:
- The most common / prevalent theme in responses (and second most common); the most frequently identified.
- Many respondents; more than 20, another prevalent theme.
- Several respondents; 10-19, a recurring theme.
- Some respondents; 5-9, another theme.
- A few / a small number of respondents; 3-5, a less commonly mentioned theme.
- Two/one respondents; a singular comment or a view identified in two responses.
This report is set out as follows:
- Chapter 2 presents an analysis of responses to Q1 to Q8. This section of the consultation document provided an overview of the Low Income Winter Heating Assistance (LIWHA), including the removal of the cold spell trigger, and asked respondents for their view on the proposal, its effectiveness and its name.
- Chapter 3 covers Q11 to Q16 about the use of qualifying benefits and the clarity of the proposed eligibility criteria for LIWHA.
- Chapter 4 addresses Q23, Q24 and Q25 and the proposed qualifying week.
- Chapter 5 presents an analysis of responses to Q9/Q10, Q21/Q22 and Q26/Q27 about the timing of the payment and the move to a one-off, annual payment, and Q17 to Q20 about the amount and format of the payment.
- Chapter 6 summarises analysis of Q28 to Q31 about redetermination and appeals.
- Chapter 7 covers Q32 to Q38 which asked respondents for any additional information about LIWHA which may be useful for impact assessments.
- Conclusions are set out in Chapter 8.
- The consultation questions are included as Appendix A, a sectoral classification of respondents is Appendix B, and a full quantitative breakdown is provided as Appendix C.
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