Pension Age Winter Heating Payment (PAWHP): consultation analysis

We are introducing Pension Age Winter Heating Payment (PAWHP) in winter 2024/25 as a like-for-like replacement for the UK Government’s Winter Fuel Payment. This report analyses the responses from the public consultation on PAWHP that ran between 23 October 2023 and 15 January 2024.

11. Conclusions

Many individuals and organisations with detailed knowledge took part in the consultation, sharing their views on the proposals for introducing PAWHP as a like-for-like replacement for the WFP. Reflecting on their experience and perspectives, this report provides a high-level summary of the consultation responses. For more detail, readers are encouraged to look to individual responses where permission was given for publication[4].

A majority of individuals who responded to the consultation supported most of the proposals presented for PAWHP. In particular, there was strong agreement with continuing to make a one-off payment in November or December, maintaining a universal approach to eligibility based on state pension age, and using a cash payment. While a majority of respondents agreed with retaining the current payment value, many qualitative comments called for a higher payment, potentially linked to fuel prices or inflation. Mixed views were evident about the name of the payment; many felt PAWHP is clear, but many others expressed a concern that a name change could be confusing. There were also mixed views about the eligibility of people in residential care who receive income-related benefits.

While there was broad support for most proposals, a minority of individual respondents repeatedly stated there should be no change to the existing WFP, or raised concerns about whether the Scottish Government would manage PAWHP effectively or amend the eligibility criteria in the future. Other concerns about the current approach were noted, such as people with birthdays at the end of the year missing out due to a September qualifying week and whether financially secure households should receive the payment.

In general, organisations who responded agreed that the proposed like-for-like replacement, with clear eligibility criteria and a cash payment, is an effective way to offer financial support to older people. Some organisations supported keeping the payment universal to all those over state pension age; however, some others recommended expanding the eligibility criteria to groups under state pension age who would benefit from financial support, such as people with disabilities or health conditions or unpaid carers. A few organisations and some individuals called on the Scottish Government to use the benefit transfer as an opportunity to take a more targeted approach, focusing payments towards reducing fuel poverty among those in most need. These varied perspectives were also evident when respondents were asked how PAWHP could be delivered in the future.

Many respondents acknowledged the additional challenges households face in remote rural, island, or off-gas grid communities, including the higher cost of alternative fuels, colder temperatures and poorer housing stock. Suggestions for how PAWHP could be delivered more effectively to those communities included a higher or supplementary payment and an earlier payment to allow alternative fuels to be bought before winter.

Overall, the key message was that while there is support for a like-for-like replacement, respondents highlighted potential improvements for the Scottish Government to consider when developing PAWHP further. The findings from this analysis will be used to continue discussions with key stakeholders and inform the drafting of PAWHP regulations.



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