Social Security Experience Panels - Low Income Winter Heating Assistance: survey findings

Results of survey asking the Experience Panels members their thoughts on the new Low Income Winter Heating Assistance benefit in Scotland.

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The name of the new benefit

When the Scottish Government introduces the new Scottish benefit that replaces Cold Weather Payment in Scotland, it is planned to be called Low Income Winter Heating Assistance.

We asked Panel members what they thought about the proposed name. 57 per cent of respondents agreed that the new benefit should be called 'Low Income Winter Heating Assistance', while 24 per cent said that they disagreed with this proposed name. 19 per cent of respondents were unsure.

Table 7. Should the new benefit be called Low Income Winter Heating Assistance?
(n=288) Number of respondents % of respondents
Yes 165 57%
No 69 24%
Unsure 54 19%

We asked Panel members what they liked and disliked about the proposed name. Those who liked the name said it was clear and easy to understand, while those who did not like the name thought it was too long, or that it contained inappropriate wording. Around 40 per cent of respondents used the phrase, "It does what is says on the tin", or similar. Many, however, felt that the inclusion of the term 'low income' was "stigmatising", "derogatory", or "demeaning", proposing that the benefit should simply be called, 'Winter Heating Assistance'. A few respondents said they disliked the word 'Assistance' altogether.

What do you like about the name Low Income Winter Heating Assistance?

Respondents who liked the name Low Income Winter Heating Assistance, said this was because it explains in the name exactly what the benefit sets out to do. They found it unambiguous, that it was easy to understand, and that the wording was well chosen. It was mentioned that, "the word 'assistance' implies a help rather than a subsidy or handout".

"Clearly indicates who this payment is aimed at."

"I believe this is an appropriate name and sounds more of a help."

"Yes, because it explains exactly what it is."

What don't you like about the name Low Income Winter Heating Assistance?

Many respondents were unhappy about the use of the term 'Low Income', as they felt it "stigmatising" and "derogatory". Many said they felt bad because it seems to reinforce certain negative attitudes towards people who claim benefits. Other respondents said that the name was "too long", "too complicated", saying that it, "seems a bit long winded, maybe something shorter and simple," would be more appropriate.

"As a benefit recipient that really, truly hates being on benefits, I find the name condescending and demeaning. It's just a reminder that I'm on low income and I'm on benefits. It's quite frankly depressing and demoralising and it's little things like this that make it harder to fight to make changes in my own life to get off benefits."

"It stigmatises people putting them into the 'needy' category that one would hope Scotland is moving away from. It categorises individuals as poor. The name I would suggest is a backwards move not progressive. Please think again, taking out the words 'low income'."

A few members suggested alternative names for the new benefit, instead of Low Income Winter Heating Assistance. Some of the suggestions were:

  • Low Income Heating Assistance
  • Scottish Winter Heating Allowance
  • Low Income Fuel Extra (LIFE)



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