Background and Methodology
The Scottish Government is becoming responsible for some of the benefits previously delivered by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). As part of the work to prepare for this change, in 2017 the Scottish Government set up the Social Security Experience Panels. The Experience Panels are made up of people who have experience of at least one of the benefits that are coming to Scotland. The Scottish Government works with Panel members to inform key decisions in the design of social security in Scotland.
At the moment, in Scotland, the DWP make a Cold Weather Payment (CWP) to people on certain low income benefits when there is a 'cold spell' where they live. This 'cold spell' is identified as when temperatures are recorded, or forecasted, at or below zero degrees Celsius for seven days in a row. This then triggers a £25 payment.
From winter 2022, there will be a new benefit in Scotland that will replace Cold Weather Payment. Currently, this is planned to be called 'Low Income Winter Heating Assistance' and it will be delivered by Social Security Scotland.
The new benefit aims to remove the dependence on cold weather altogether. This is because people on low income benefits are more likely to find it difficult to afford heating their homes in winter, regardless of temperature. In an Experience Panel survey undertaken in 2020, Panel members felt that the requirement for 7 days below freezing was too strict, and that it made it difficult to plan ahead. It left people feeling unable to heat their homes even in very cold weather.
Under the new arrangements, everyone in Scotland who would have been eligible for Cold Weather Payment, will in future be paid a one-off annual payment of £50 each winter instead.
Panel members were invited to take part in a survey to give their views on the key policy options for Low Income Winter Heating Assistance, including:
- How the new benefit should work
- Who should be eligible
- When the benefit should be paid
- How much the payment should be
We identified members of the Experience Panels who had told us that they previously had experience of the Cold Weather Payment, as well as those who had told us that they have experience of other benefits that were part of the eligibility criteria for Cold Weather Payment. There were 667 Panel members whose benefit experience meant that they were invited to take part in this survey. 288 panel members completed the survey, representing a response rate of 43 per cent.
This research ran at the same time as a wider public consultation, the results of which are due to be published at the same time as this report.
The data has been analysed by Scottish Government researchers. The data has not been weighted due to a lack of publicly available information about a comparable population. The information provided in this report must therefore be understood as being representative of these respondents only, and assumptions cannot be drawn on the wider applicability of these findings to Panel members as a whole or for those with experience of the social security system in general.
Throughout the report, Panel members who completed the survey are referred to as respondents. Results shown in the report exclude any respondents who were either filtered out of the question or who left the response blank. Results presented in figures or tables are intended to show proportions between different answer options. The number of respondents answering a question is shown in the title of the table as (n). Quotations are taken from comments left by respondents in open-text questions. Minor edits to spelling and grammar were made as appropriate.
Demographic information for the Experience Panel members who took part is not available for this project. More detailed demographic information on the Experience Panels as a whole can be found in 'Social Security Experience Panels - panel members: full report - 2020 update.'
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