Introduction and background
The 2021-22 Programme for Government included a commitment to replace the current Cold Weather Payment (CWP) with a new Low Income Winter Heating Assistance (LIWHA) benefit, providing around 400,000 households on low incomes with a guaranteed annual payment of £50.
The consultation on LIWHA explained our intention to replace the CWP dependence on 7 day cold weather spells with a single annual payment of £50 every winter to those receiving low income benefits. By breaking the current link with cold weather LIWHA aims to mitigate some of the impact of additional domestic heating costs in winter by providing targeted, reliable financial support to households with low incomes. 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; and
- The impact of the policy.
We received 119 responses to the consultation, 83 from individuals and 36 from organisations. Most respondents indicated that they support the introduction of a new benefit to replace CWP and were also supportive of the proposal to remove the weather dependency aspect of CWP. However, some also expressed reservations about the proposed eligibility criteria, how (and how often) we identify eligible clients and the amount and timing of payments.
We have fully considered the consultation responses and the impacts that the suggested changes would have on LIWHA if they were implemented. 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 2022-23, due to the requirement for a substantial redesign of the delivery systems of the payment. We will, however, continue to investigate ways of improving the benefit, through changing the timing or value of the payment or when and how eligibility is assessed, after it has been launched.
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