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 10 to 12: Payment Format

Section 4.4 of the consultation asked questions on the proposed format of the payment, such as whether PAWHP should continue as a single annual payment, and the ability for clients to opt out of the payment.

Providing multiple payments to eligible clients throughout the winter

The consultation outlined our proposals for a single annual payment to be made each year to those entitled to PAWHP, reflecting the same service provided by DWP for WFP.

Among those who answered, 88% of all respondents and 87% of individuals agreed with this proposal for a single annual payment. 94% of organisations responding agreed, and no organisations disagreed, meaning this was the joint highest level of support recorded by organisations.

However, those who disagreed suggested more regular payments instead of a one-off payment. Suggestions included monthly payments, multiple payments at the start, during and end of winter, or at times when temperatures are lowest. Those who explained their reasoning suggested that more regular payments would be better for budgeting. Some suggested for two payments each winter. Most suggested that one payment should be made at the usual time, with a second payment either in January/February or at the end of winter, to cover bills received later in the winter.

Making more than a single payment to eligible clients each winter would inevitably increase the complexity and cost of delivering the benefit. The impact on both complexity and cost would depend on how many payment cycles were to be introduced, but it is likely that making more than one payment to eligible clients each winter would add increased risk to the delivery of the new benefit and increase agency staffing requirements.

Given the high levels of agreement among the majority of individuals and stakeholders who responded to this question, and the complexity and costs associated with delivering more than one payment per winter alongside the ongoing delivery of other Winter Benefits, we intend to continue making a single annual payment as proposed.

Providing clients with the opportunity to opt-out of PAWHP

WFP is a universal payment for older age people and we know there will be some people who may not require additional support during the winter due to their level of income. DWP currently provide an option to ‘opt-out’ of receiving WFP if the eligible person does not wish to receive it or alternatively suggest people can donate it to a charity of their choice.

In the consultation we laid out our proposals to mirror that approach for PAWHP, and provide the opportunity to ‘opt-out’ of the payment ahead of the winter period. This approach would mean a person would continue to be ‘opted out’ unless they advised Social Security Scotland that they wanted their payment to resume. This means that pensioners who do not feel they require additional support, because they have a high level of income for example, can choose not to receive it.

Over three fifths (64%) of those who responded to this aspect of the consultation agreed with the proposals for opting-out of PAWHP, while 16% disagreed; agreement was higher among organisations (76%).

Clear communication about the ‘opt-out’ option was highlighted as necessary by some. The ALLIANCE suggested that there should be a reminder of eligibility annually or every other year for those who have opted-out to allow them to opt back in if their circumstances change. In contrast, a few respondents suggested that clients should only be able to ‘opt-out’ for one year and be re-enrolled automatically for future years.

One stakeholder, Independent Age, supported the option of having an ‘opt-out’ mechanism. However, noted those who ‘opt-out’ should not have to ‘opt-in’ to receive the payment again but rather should be required to opt-out each year. This was suggested to ensure that individuals who had previously opt-ed out would not miss out on a payment because they had forgotten to opt back in.

We intend to continue to provide an option to ‘opt-out’ and that an individual will need to ‘opt-in’ at a future point in time should they wish to do so. This reflects that PAWHP is a universal benefit, which some eligible recipients will not require, and reflects our commitment to deliver a like-for-like benefit. This approach also ensures those clients who have chosen to ‘opt-out’ previously do not need to continue to update Social Security Scotland. Relevant communication will be provided to the client each year to notify them they remain opted out, and advising them on the steps to opt-back in should they wish to do so.



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