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 14 to 16: Re-determinations and Unintended Consequences

Section 5 of the consultation asked questions about the proposed timescales for a client to request a re-determination, and the time period for Social Security Scotland to consider a re-determination for PAWHP. A re-determination can be requested by a client to Social Security Scotland where the client believes a wrong decision has been made in respect of their application and they ask for this to be looked at again.

Re-determination timescales

The consultation outlined proposals on timescales for a client to request a re-determination (31 calendar days) and timescales for Social Security Scotland making a decision on a re-determination (56 calendar days).

Following further consideration of re-determinations timescales as well as the feedback received during the consultation, we intend to increase the time limit for a client to request a re-determination from 31 calendar days to 42 calendar days. This would provide greater flexibility for clients to challenge a PAWHP determination and would address organisations’ concerns that this client group may need more time to request a re-determination.

We had proposed using an upper limit of 56 calendar days for Social Security Scotland to complete a re-determination. The increase in timescales for a client to request a re-determination will mean that both timescales align with the disability benefit re-determinations timescales. Although there were some reservations from organisations about a longer timeframe, it is important to note that 56 days would be the upper limit for completing a re-determination, and that we expect most re-determinations to be completed more quickly.

The rationale for providing an enhanced deadline of 56 calendar days to complete a re-determination, rather than the 16 working days used for low income benefits, is that PAWHP is not a low income benefit. PAWHP is an age-based benefit with variable award levels, which would impact the challenge process due to increased complexity. During a re-determination for PAWHP, household matching may be required, as well as allowing time for clients to gather further supporting information regarding the qualifying week.

PAWHP will also have the largest caseload of all Social Security Scotland benefits, with approximately 1.1 million people eligible. Considering the scale of the eligible cohort and the complexity of decision-making for PAWHP, even a small volume of re-determinations could have significant operational impacts. A longer timescale to complete re-determinations would allow Social Security Scotland to more effectively manage these requests, reducing the risk of re-determinations going out-of-time.

In summary, these enhanced timeframes for re-determinations would provide more time and flexibility for clients to challenge their PAWHP award, as well as ensuring sufficient time for Social Security Scotland to consider PAWHP award level, gather supporting information and complete household matching during the re-determination. This aligned approach would promote informed decision-making at re-determination stage and is likely to reduce the likelihood of appeals.



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