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.

Question 5: Improving delivery for rural, island and off-grid communities

Scottish Ministers committed to considering how delivery for rural/island/off-grid communities could be improved when delivering PAWHP. In the consultation we asked how we could improve delivery for households in remote rural and island communities that are not on the gas grid. The two main suggestions highlighted in consultation responses in relation to improving delivery for these groups centred around payment timing and value of payment.

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.

Many respondents advocated for the payment to be made earlier, or for greater flexibility around when the payment is made. Most commonly, respondents highlighted that households in these areas may need or prefer to bulk buy fuel in the summer or autumn when prices are cheaper. There were calls for payment in October or early November, rather than late November or December.

An alternative option suggested by respondents in the consultation, was to prioritise payments to this particular group to ensure they received the payment as soon as possible in the winter period. This would allow for them to buy the relevant fuel as early as possible in the winter period, where costs may be lower. As this group have to buy fuel in advance it would allow them to put their PAWHP towards the cost of a bulk order earlier in the winter.

Alternatively, many respondents argued that there should be a higher, additional or supplementary payment made to these households, given the higher cost of gas alternatives and higher levels of fuel poverty. Organisations, including the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA), Energy Action Scotland and Age Scotland, suggested a ‘rural uplift’ or premium.

While it is clear that there are ways in which delivery could be improved for these communities, any changes introduced at this stage would bring considerable complexity and cost and would risk the safe and secure transfer of PAWHP in Winter 2024/2025. It will therefore not be possible to make changes to the way PAWHP is delivered in the short term. Further consideration of the challenges raised will be included as part of future improvements.



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