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.

3. Timing of the payment

This chapter presents an analysis of Q4, which explored the timing of the payment.

Q4. Do you agree or disagree with the proposal to continue making payments to clients in November or December each year? Please provide further information on why you agree or disagree.

n= Agree Disagree Unsure No answer
No. of all respondents 906 771 75 38 22
% of all respondents 906 85 8 4 2
% of all answering 884 87 8 4 -
% of individuals answering 869 87 8 4 -
% of organisations answering 15 73 20 7 -
  • Miscellaneous
5 100 0 0 -
  • Health / disability / age
7 71 29 0 -
  • Poverty / fuel poverty
0 - - - -
  • Local Authority
3 33 33 33 -

There was strong support for payments in November and December among those who answered; 87% overall and 87% of individuals agreed with this proposal, the highest level of agreement recorded by individuals across the consultation questions. Support was again high among organisations who answered, with three quarters (73%) agreeing.

Appropriate timing before the coldest weather

Just under two thirds left a comment in Q4. Reflecting the strong support in the closed question, by far the most prevalent theme was agreement that this is the most appropriate time to make the payment. Both individuals and organisations highlighted that when the weather becomes colder, more heating is required and energy bills increase; therefore, additional support is required. It was also highlighted that payment in November or December enables the upfront payment of solid or liquid fuels. As noted in Q2b, some respondents highlighted that payment at this time would stop people worrying about paying their heating bills, or encourage people to use their heating sufficiently. Several respondents reiterated the more general point about the need to support older people with their heating bills over the winter, as outlined in Q1.

“A great time to pay as most have already had their heating on since October so it’s vital they have enough money to meet their bills at end of December.” – Individual

“We agree that this is a sensible time of year to issue these payments, towards the start of winter and as the weather becomes colder. And is consistent with the current arrangement for WFP.” – Age Scotland

Some individuals and a few organisations, including those who agreed and a small number who disagreed at the closed question, expressed a view that all payments should be made in November or as early as possible within the feasible timeframe, rather than continuing into December. For example, Independent Age, who disagreed at the closed question, argued that a November payment would “improve the timeliness of support”.

Earlier payment required

The next most prevalent theme was that an earlier payment date would be better. Several individuals and one organisation - Stirling Council - advocated this. October was the most frequently mentioned month. Arguments for this approach included that Scotland becomes colder earlier than other parts of the UK, and that it would allow people to budget and to buy solid or liquid fuel in advance when they are often cheaper. A few called for earlier payment for rural or island households, which is covered in Chapter 8.

Comments about Christmas

Some respondents expressed various views about the payment being made before Christmas. Some held a negative view, expressing concern that receiving a lump sum may lead to the money being spent on other items, including Christmas presents. Conversely, others felt Christmas costs meant the payment helped address financial challenges or that the payment allowed homes to be heated for guests visiting.

“Because even if pensioners are paying their fuel bills by direct debit (and thus spreading the cost throughout the year) they will still tend to have increased costs over the festive period. Thus the payment will assist them in being able to celebrate Christmas and New Year.” – Inclusion Scotland

January or February payment

Making the payment after the New Year was suggested by some individuals. This was felt to be a way to avoid the money being used for Christmas, though others argued payments in the New Year would be beneficial as it is the time of coldest weather and highest bills.

Spread the payment over the winter months

A variety of suggestions were made by some individuals to split the payment over two or more months. Reasons included assisting with budgeting, spreading the cost and ensuring the money was spent on heating bills. The number of payments is covered in detail in Q11.

Other suggestions

A few organisations and some individuals offered alternative suggestions. These included making the payment on a definite date to provide certainty and providing choice to clients.

“We agree with the reservation that [payment timing] should be the subject of intelligence-led research in that it should be reviewed in terms of the coldest months of the year, taking into account any climate change impacts.” - Scottish Community Safety Network

“Recipients should be able to choose when they would like to receive the payment which best reflects their needs and allows for greater financial planning over the winter months.” – National Carer Organisations



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