Pension Age Winter Heating Payment (PAWHP): consultation response

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 document lays out the Scottish Government’s response to the PAWHP consultation.

Introduction and background

In Winter 2024/2025, the new Pension Age Winter Heating Payment (PAWHP) will replace the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) Winter Fuel Payment (WFP), providing around one million individuals who have reached state pension age with a guaranteed annual payment of up to £300. This will be the largest caseload introduced to Social Security Scotland since the agency’s inception.

The consultation[1] on PAWHP explained our intention to replace the WFP safely and securely on a like-for-like basis. Under our proposals, everyone who would currently be eligible to receive WFP will continue to receive the benefit at the level they were previously entitled to due to their age and household composition. The consultation asked about the following areas:

  • Whether the proposals are likely to meet the policy intent;
  • Whether the eligibility criteria are clear;
  • The amount, format and timing of the payment;
  • Our assessment of the impact of the policy;
  • Improvements that would support rural/island communities; and,
  • Potential longer term development of PAWHP to provide effective support

We received over 900 responses to the consultation, 881 from individuals and 25 from organisations. Most indicated that they support the like-for-like replacement of WFP, agreeing it would be an effective way to provide financial support for older people. However, stakeholders with an interest in poverty (including fuel poverty) were more likely to disagree with this approach. The main areas of disagreement concerned the name of the benefit and redetermination timescales for Social Security Scotland.

We have fully considered the consultation responses and the impacts that the suggested changes would have on PAWHP if they were implemented. A report[2] summarising the independent analysis of the 906 consultation responses has been published on the Scottish Government website. Our response to the issues raised by respondents is set out in this report.

We have taken into account the extent to which any changes to the policy at this stage may present a significant financial challenge or potentially risk our ability to deliver the benefit in winter 2024/25, due to the requirement for a substantial redesign of the delivery systems of the payment. Further policy development work will continue, to consider future improvements to the delivery of Pension Age Winter Heating Payment post-launch.

Other Engagement

During the consultation period in December and January, ahead of the consultation closing, the Scottish Government met directly with some of our key stakeholders including Age Scotland, Citizens Advice Scotland, Energy Action Scotland, and Consumer Scotland to discuss the proposals and to respond to any immediate questions before they submitted their responses to the consultation.

The Scottish Government also carried out a separate research project seeking the views of Social Security Experience Panel members on this proposed new payment. We asked Experience Panel members for their thoughts on proposals for PAWHP including eligibility, timing of payment, payment rates and the potential impact of the payment on different communities and groups. In total, 164 members completed the survey out of 2,047 invited to. The full report[3] details the findings and key themes that emerged from this work.



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