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Low Income Winter Heating Assistance: consultation analysis

Analysis of the responses to our consultation on the proposal to introduce a new Scottish benefit, Low Income Winter Heating Assistance (LIWHA), to replace the current Cold Weather Payment scheme in Scotland from winter 2022.


8. Conclusions

In total, 119 consultation responses were received. Reflecting their experience and specific interests, this report provides a high-level summary of respondents' perspectives[4]. Together, these responses are an essential evidence base for the Scottish Government to draw on when finalising LIWHA to ensure it is delivered with dignity, respect and fairness.

There is broad support for LIWHA in several key areas: to remove the cold spell trigger (76%); for recipients to have 31 days to request a redetermination (71%); to replace the Cold Weather Payment (CWP) with a new benefit (70%); to give Social Security Scotland 16 working days to consider a redetermination (66%); to use qualifying benefits (64%); and provide an annual one-off payment each winter (61%). Three fifths (61%) agreed LIWHA is an effective way to tackle winter heating costs for people on low incomes.

Respondents also identified aspects of the proposals to improve, alter or reconsider. Core concerns included arguments that removing the cold spell criteria could mean some households in colder locations lose out, exacerbating fuel poverty. Several suggested other ways to support households in colder locations, and a small number called for a link to temperature or the existing CWP scheme to be retained. Respondents highlighted that not all people on low incomes receive state benefits; and that LIWHA might not reach all low income households who need assistance, for example pensioners and those experiencing in-work poverty. There was also a concern that including 'low income' in the name of the scheme could be stigmatising. Many felt strongly that the list of qualifying benefits should be expanded, and in particular, should include disability benefits. Although half (51%) agreed LIWHA should be a cash payment, several suggested LIWHA should be paid directly to energy suppliers.

There was less support for the proposed qualifying week where eligible recipients will be identified; 41% agreed with this approach. Respondents highlighted that some households could lose out if their circumstances change after the qualifying week. Over half (52%) disagreed with a February payment date, arguing it was too late, particularly for those using prepayment meters or unregulated fuel who need to pay in advance. January then December were put forward as more suitable alternatives. Over half (52%) disagreed with the proposed £50 payment rate which was seen as insufficient, given rising energy costs.

The range of views identified in the consultation provide a useful steer for any further development of LIWHA. However, given some of the variation in the views, priorities and concerns expressed in consultation responses, it is likely that any changes to the proposals will not satisfy all stakeholders.

Contact

Email: WinterBenefitsPolicy@gov.scot

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