Social security experience panels: cold spell and winter fuel payment - visual summary

Findings from research with Social Security experience panels members on the new cold spell heating assistance and winter heating assistance.

Cold Weather Payments

More than half (58 per cent) of respondents said that they had received a Cold Weather Payment. 

More than three in five of these (63 per cent) said that their experience of the payment was “good” or “very good”.

The fact that Cold Weather Payments are paid into their account automatically was highlighted as a positive.

Some respondents also said it eased the financial pressure of heating their home during cold spells.

Others felt that the requirement for seven consecutive days at or below freezing was too strict and made it difficult to plan. 

It prevented some respondents from putting their heating on when it was needed.

Some respondents felt that the temperature cut off was too strict. 

Many respondents will find it very cold when temperatures are slightly above freezing. 

Some felt that individual circumstances should be taken into account. For example:

  • Health conditions
  • The insulation in a home
  • If the home is on or off-grid

Three quarters of respondents who had received a Cold Weather Payment said they received a letter. The letter told them that they were getting the payment.

Almost all (97 per cent) of these respondents said that they understood why they were getting the payment.

Almost three in five (59 per cent) “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that the timing of the payment was helpful. Many said they were able to put the payment towards their next bill.

But some also highlighted things that could be improved:

  • The timing of the payment was a problem for respondents with pre-paid meters.
  • One in six (16 per cent) respondents said they had expected a payment but not received one. 
  • They felt the temperature where they live was different to the measurement point for their area. They felt that the criteria for the payment were too strict. 



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