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.

Questions 1 to 3: Overview and the name of the new benefit

Section 4.1 of the consultation document provided an overview of proposals for the new PAWHP benefit, and asked respondents to comment on the proposed name of ‘Pension Age Winter Heating Payment’.

Name of the new benefit

The consultation laid out our proposal to name the new benefit which will replace WFP, ‘Pension Age Winter Heating Payment’.

Responses to the consultation identified mixed views in relation to the name of PAWHP. 76% of stakeholders who responded to this question agreed with the proposed name of ‘Pension Age Winter Heating Payment’. However, there was less agreement from individuals (41% of individuals who responded to this question disagreed, with 43% in agreement). Many suggested that it should continue to be called ‘Winter Fuel Payment’. Some of the responses suggested that a change in name could be confusing.

During the previous consultation on Low Income Winter Heating Assistance (LIWHA, now Winter Heating Payment or WHP) that concluded in early 2022, we considered the naming of the winter benefits and asked for respondent’s views. In our response to the consultation analysis we committed to undertaking further testing of potential names prior to the launch. This concluded in the change in name to ‘Winter Heating Payment’, as people felt it was clearer what type of support was available when ‘payment’ was used in comparison to ‘assistance’.

‘Pension Age Winter Heating Payment’ was chosen as the current name for the benefit based on this previous user research conducted preceding the launch of WHP and was agreed by the Minister of Social Security and Local Government at the time. The name of ‘Child Winter Heating Assistance’ was subsequently also changed to ‘Child Winter Heating Payment’ thus meaning all Winter Benefits have reference to ‘Winter Heating Payment’ within their name ensuring consistency for clients and stakeholders.

We are currently developing an extensive strategic communications and engagement plan to raise awareness of the changes to Winter Fuel Payment and the new benefit name ‘Pension Age Winter Heating Payment’. This will include proactive communication and marketing activity around the name change, as well as information about forthcoming changes, to help make sure eligible people and stakeholders are made aware of, and reassured about, the replacement benefit.

Given the previous work undertaken when developing and launching Winter Heating Payment, and the changes already made to align the naming of Child Winter Heating Payment (previously Child Winter Heating Assistance), it is considered appropriate to name this new benefit ‘Pension Age Winter Heating Payment’. Naming the new benefit PAWHP ensures it is clear what support is being provided and to whom.

Longer-term development of the new benefit

The consultation asked respondents to comment on the potential longer term development of this benefit in order to provide the most effective support.

The most prevalent theme raised by many individuals was to keep the benefit universal. Fears were expressed that, over time, means testing could be introduced. Reasons cited for not wanting the benefit to be means tested were that many people of pension age were only just above the threshold for benefits and were struggling to pay their bills, that people who had worked hard throughout their lives were disadvantaged by means testing, and that it would be costly for the government to apply means testing in practice.

Several individuals and South Lanarkshire Council called for the payment value to rise in line with inflation or rising fuel costs. Comments were generally brief, but the main reason was to ensure the payment kept its value over time. Comments were made that the value of the payment has been eroded over time as it has not been linked to increasing prices.

Several respondents advocated for the targeting of funds used for PAWHP to particular groups, rather than a universal approach. This included five organisations that called for the benefit to be targeted more effectively at those in fuel poverty: Energy Saving Trust, Energy Action Scotland, Inclusion Scotland, Consumer Scotland and Shetland Islands Council. However, Inclusion Scotland noted that the rising energy costs had exacerbated the cost-of-living crisis, and therefore, now is not the right time to make such changes.

The Scottish Fuel Poverty Advisory Panel submitted a detailed response outlining why there is a need for an alternative approach, and how this could be introduced in the short-and long-term. They expressed a view that a replacement benefit should be targeted, not universal, and underpinned by data analysis to determine where the payment would have the most impact. They also suggested that the three existing winter weather payments - Winter Heating Payment, WFP (to become PAWHP), and the Warm Homes’ Discount - should be consolidated. Both these suggestions were supported by the Poverty and Inequality Commission in their response.

Extending the benefit to other groups was advocated by several respondents, including RNIB Scotland, The ALLIANCE, Age Scotland and Citizens Advice Scotland. These organisations called for additional support for those with disabilities or long-term conditions, whilst the ALLIANCE also felt unpaid carers should receive support towards utility costs. Public Health Scotland suggested that consideration could be given to extending PAWHP to adults aged between 60 and state pension age. Individuals also suggested that disabled people should benefit from heating support payments, as well as those with terminal illnesses or families in need.

We are committed to delivering PAWHP on a like-for-like basis to ensure the transfer is managed safely and securely for winter 2024/2025. Policy development will continue to consider potential improvements that could be implemented in the future.



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