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.

7. Re-determination timescales

This section considers the timescales for the re-determination process by Social Security Scotland. The Social Security Act (Scotland) 2018 gives individuals the right to challenge a decision made by Social Security Scotland if they believe it is incorrect. Unlike the DWP’s Mandatory Reconsideration, Social Security Scotland puts aside the original determination to allow for a different, independent officer to process a new determination. Applicants are not required to provide any further information as a part of this process.

Q14. Do you agree or disagree with the proposal that clients have 31 days to request a re-determination? Please provide further information on why you agree or disagree.

n= Agree Disagree Unsure No answer
No. of all respondents 906 512 76 298 20
% of all respondents 906 57 8 33 2
% of all answering 886 58 9 34 -
% of individuals answering 870 58 8 34 -
% of organisations answering 16 56 31 13 -
  • Miscellaneous
5 80 0 20 -
  • Health / disability / age
7 43 43 14 -
  • Poverty / fuel poverty
1 100 0 0 -
  • Local Authority
3 33 67 0 -

Over half (58%) of all respondents who answered Q14 agreed with the proposal that clients have 31 days to request a re-determination. Fewer than one in ten (9%) disagreed, though one-third (34%) were unsure. Organisations held more mixed views. While 56% of those that answered agreed, 31% disagreed and 13% were unsure.

Agreement with 31 days

Just over a quarter of respondents commented in Q14. The most prevalent theme was general agreement with the proposal. While many did not provide additional detail, reasons for agreeing included comments that the process was reasonable, fair and a sufficient timeframe to ensure a response before the winter.

“[We] supports the right of individuals to challenge the determination of Social Security Scotland and that to do this within 31 days seems fair and reasonable also noting that under some circumstances that can extend out to 12 months.” – Energy Action Scotland


Several respondents stated they did not understand the question and were unsure how to respond. Those who elaborated typically suggested that the word ‘re-determination’ was confusing, while some expressed confusion that a re-determination period was necessary as the payment is not means tested and should be given to anyone of state pension age.

Request for a longer re-determination period

Suggestions for longer re-determination periods of varying lengths were proposed by some. Suggestions ranged from 31 days to 6 months. Two respondents requested that people have until the end of December to submit a redetermination. Respondents noted a number of reasons why people may need longer, including being in hospital, having unpaid caring duties, or timescales that account for a slower postal service.

A few organisations proposed longer timeframes. Stirling Council, The ALLIANCE and Independent Age recommended 56 days to match Social Security Scotland's timeframes to respond to a re-determination. Age Scotland suggested 42 days as it provides consistency with many other benefits administered by Social Security Scotland and would reduce confusion. National Carer Organisation also recommended 42 days to allow longer for those with commitments to their time, such as unpaid caring roles. Alternatively, they noted that if the period remains 31 days, a published list of circumstances permitting a late application should be made available.

Q15. 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? Please provide further information on why you agree or disagree.

It should be noted that the consultation paper contained contradictory information which impacts the analysis of Q15. While the explanation of the re-determination process proposes Social Security Scotland have 56 calendar days (approximately two months) to make the fresh re-determination, respondents were asked if they agreed with a period of 56 working days (approximately 11 weeks). While some respondents clarified whether they answered with calendar or working days in mind, it was not clear in all instances.

“It is notable that the individual has only 31 calendar days whilst Social Security Scotland has a much longer period of 56 working days. To avoid misunderstanding it would be best if ‘days’ were calculated on the same basis either calendar or working.” – Energy Action Scotland

n= Agree Disagree Unsure No answer
No. of all respondents 906 348 235 295 28
% of all respondents 906 38 26 33 3
% of all answering 878 40 27 34 -
% of individuals answering 864 40 27 34 -
% of organisations answering 14 43 43 14 -
  • Miscellaneous
5 60 20 20 -
  • Health / disability / age
6 17 67 17 -
  • Poverty / fuel poverty
0 - - - -
  • Local Authority
3 67 33 0 -

Mixed views were also evident on the proposal that Social Security Scotland have a period of 56 working days to consider a re-determination. Overall 40% of those who answered agreed with this approach, the second lowest level of agreement across the consultation, both overall and among individuals. One quarter (27%) disagreed and one third (34%) were unsure. Among organisations that answered, 43% agreed, which was the lowest level of agreement recorded by organisations across the consultation.

56 days is too long

Just over one third provided a comment in Q15. Many expressed a view that the proposed 56 days for Social Security Scotland to respond to a re-determination was too long. Many did not elaborate further, but those who provided reasons, including Age Scotland, suggested that:

  • The long period may leave people without funds for heating at the start of winter.
  • Re-determination should match the 31 days for individuals to make a request.
  • Information about applicant ages and eligibility should be readily available and assessable and should take less time to re-determine.

“We believe there needs to be a quicker turnaround for this. If the period is September then 56 days later will take it into middle of November / start of December in the middle of Winter. There needs to be a quicker turnaround than this.” - Scottish Community Safety Network

Agreement with the proposed timeframe

Several respondents agreed with the proposal of 56 days for the review. Reasons provided in support included that it is a fair, sensible, and sufficient time to undertake the review. Others supported having consistency with other devolved payments. Some who agreed caveated their agreement with a desire for the re-determination to be made as quickly as possible as it could impact those needing funds before the cold weather starts.

“The ALLIANCE have previously suggested in responses to earlier social security related consultations that there should be equality of timescale for requesting and considering re-determinations. However, we understand that timescales are now broadly standardised across devolved payments. We are therefore generally content for those standard timescales to be applied to PAWHP to ensure consistency across the system.” – The ALLIANCE

“[Agree] As long as the re-determination can be delivered ASAP within this timescale.” - Individual

Other themes

In addition to further uncertainty over the meaning and need for re-determination, a few respondents misread the question and responded as if the proposal was asking for opinions about a 56 day option for individuals to make a re-determination request compared to 31 days at Q14. A small number of respondents expressed concerns about the cost of re-determination to Social Security Scotland.



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