Publication - Impact assessment

Winter Heating Assistance for Children and Young People (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2021: draft CRWIA

Published: 24 Sep 2021

Draft child rights and wellbeing impact assessment (CRWIA) for the Winter Heating Assistance for Children and Young People (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2021 Amendment Regulations 2021.

Winter Heating Assistance for Children and Young People (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2021: draft CRWIA
Winter Heating Assistance for Children and Young People (Amendment) (Scotland) Regulations 2021: Draft CRWIA

Winter Heating Assistance for Children and Young People (Amendment) (Scotland) Regulations 2021: Draft CRWIA

Date of publication:

Executive summary

Child Winter Heating Assistance (CWHA) was introduced in response to the commitment in the SNP Manifesto for the Scottish Parliamentary elections in 2016, to extend eligibility for Winter Fuel Payments to children who were entitled to the highest rate of the care component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA).

The Winter Heating Assistance for Children and Young People (Scotland) Regulations 2020 ('the 2020 Regulations') introduced the statutory framework for CWHA. The 2020 Regulations provide that a child or young person must be entitled to the highest rate of the care component of DLA or Child Disability Payment (CDP), in respect of any one day during the qualifying week in September (21 to 27 September in 2020).

The rationale for providing for eligibility to CWHA for this group of children and young people is to provide some mitigation for the increased costs these individuals incur including as a result of needing to heat their homes through the day and night, or periods of the night, because, as a result of their disability or condition, they require another person to provide care and support throughout the night.

Prior to 1 September 2020, a child who was entitled to DLA immediately prior to age 16 was required to apply for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) on or after reaching age 16. The Scottish Ministers amended the eligibility criteria for DLA to allow a young person to remain entitled to that benefit, before being required to apply for PIP at age 18 instead.

However, young people (aged 16 and over) who apply for a disability benefit for the first time, must continue to apply for PIP. A young person who is terminally ill (within the meaning given in the Welfare Reform Act 2012) and makes an application for PIP will be automatically awarded the enhanced rate of the daily living component.

The Scottish Government has carefully considered feedback from stakeholders and individuals about young people aged 16 to 18 who cannot access DLA or CDP because of their age, which excludes them from entitlement to Child Winter Heating Assistance, despite having broadly similar needs as a result of their disability.

Extending eligibility to young people aged 16 to 18 who are entitled to be paid the enhanced rate of the daily living component of PIP is considered to be the most effective way of targeting this form of assistance at young people with the most severe disabilities.

The Regulations also make provision to enable Scottish Ministers to pay CWHA to a person to be used for the benefit of the child. This power will ensure that where Scottish Ministers cannot verify the relationship between a child, and someone who receives DLA on their behalf, that Scottish Ministers can pay another person. This will help to ensure that vital financial assistance can still be received.

Background

The key aim of the CWHA is to provide children, young people and their families with an annual payment during the winter to assist them financially in mitigating the increased costs they incur in heating their homes as a result of being disabled or having a long-term condition.

The assistance has been developed to address the increased costs that disabled children, young people and their families incur as a result of:

  • heating their homes to a higher temperature in winter, in line with World Health Organization (WHO) Guidance on room temperatures for vulnerable people;
  • the need to heat their homes through the night, or for periods of the night, because another person is required to provide care and support to the child or young person during the night in respect of needs arising from the individual's disability or condition; and
  • the need to heat their homes for longer periods through the winter because of the likelihood of most children or young people receiving the highest rate care component of DLA being present in the family home for longer periods of time.

A household is in fuel poverty if it needs to spend more than 10 per cent of adjusted net income, i.e. after having paid housing costs, on reasonable fuel needs and is not left with enough money to maintain an acceptable standard of living[1].

For the purposes of the Fuel Poverty (Targets, Definition and Strategy) Act 2019, someone who has a long-term health condition or is in receipt of a disability benefit such as DLA or PIP is assumed to need a warmer home e.g. 23 degrees Celsius for the living room instead of the standard 21 degrees. They are also assumed to need to heat the home for 16 hours a day.

CWHA is presently targeted only at children and young people who receive the highest rate of the care component of DLA or CDP, as this provides a reasonable proxy for those children and young people who need heat during the day and at night. It also targets those children and young people who are assumed to have the most severe needs as a result of their disability, by virtue of being entitled to the highest rate of the care component.

This targeted form of assistance is one way in which families of disabled children and young people reduce their exposure to fuel poverty.

As entitlement to CWHA is linked to entitlement to other forms of social security assistance, it does not ordinarily require an application from individual clients. Payments are normally triggered automatically on the basis of information held by Social Security Scotland or the Department for Work and Pensions.

The automatic nature of the payment is designed to ensure that this financial support is delivered by 31 December each year to eligible child or young person. A small number of children and young people, who are habitually resident in a country listed in the Schedule of the principal regulations and have a genuine and sufficient link to Scotland, must apply for Child Winter Heating Assistance.

Extension of eligibility criteria

Whilst we understand that some individuals would like to see us extend the eligibility criteria more widely. However, any further changes would need more detailed service design and delivery alterations (requiring technical system changes and further testing which would require diversion of resources currently dedicated to extension of the Scottish Child Payment (SCP), CDP and Adult Disability Payment (ADP)). In order to avoid considerable risks and delays to the launch of these other forms of assistance, Ministers have decided that on balance it is better to deliver the extended CWHA payment safely and securely now. This will ensure that a large number of young people can benefit from this support at a time when economic recovery will be of paramount importance.

The Scottish Government considered a number of options as part of the extension of the eligibility criteria of CWHA in light of stakeholder feedback. Rather than more generally extending entitlement to assistance to any child or young person in receipt of any rate of a disability benefit, both individual and stakeholder feedback has focused primarily on young people aged 16 to 18. This is because some of those young people will not have received DLA or CDP prior to turning 16, therefore excluding them from entitlement to CWHA.

A number of options were therefore considered for the extension of eligibility to meet the needs of this group:

  • Option 1: Extending eligibility for CWHA to all young people who are aged 16 to 18, but do not receive DLA, and require them to meet a new substantive eligibility requirement relating to day and night-time care needs;
  • Option 2: Extending eligibility to all young people who are aged 16 to 18 and entitled to the enhanced rate of the daily living component of PIP in the qualifying week in September and meet a substantive eligibility requirement relating to night-time care needs;
  • Option 3: Extending eligibility to all young people who are aged 16 to 18 and entitled to the enhanced rate of the daily living component of PIP in the qualifying week in September.

Option 1 would replicate the same application process as that used for both DLA and CDP. It would also potentially require clients within the extended eligibility group to re-apply in future years, as further confirmation that they continue to have both day and night-time needs would need to be established.

This would involve considerably more effort on the part of clients to complete an application form, as well as potentially supplying or signposting supporting information from a health or social care professional that confirms that the individual has the relevant needs.

This option would have a considerable impact upon Social Security Scotland's ability to deliver other forms of assistance, as it would require a full application and decision-making framework that does not currently exist. This would be delivered at the same time that Social Security Scotland will be delivering Child Disability Payment across Scotland, impacting upon the Scottish Government's ability to deliver a safe and secure transition for clients.

It is expected that there will be a need to transfer the payments of more than 40,000 clients from DWP to Social Security Scotland, whilst also developing the necessary systems and infrastructure to support delivery of Adult Disability Payment from 2022.

Option 2 would require development of an application form and manual assessment of eligibility but only in respect of the individual's night-time care needs. The enhanced rate of the daily living component may be considered a reasonable proxy for having the highest level of daytime care needs.

This option would take considerable time to implement the necessary design and development work, with a considerable impact as described in Option 1. This would affect Social Security Scotland's ability to deliver other forms of assistance this year, whilst also delivering a safe and secure transition from DLA to CDP at the same time.

Option 3 as with Option 2, the receipt of the enhanced rate of the daily living component may be considered a reasonable proxy for having the highest level of day-time care needs and therefore the requirement for heating the home during the day.

In Scotland, 68% of children in receipt of the highest rate of the care component of DLA, were awarded the enhanced rate of the daily living component of PIP, 9% were awarded the standard rate of the daily living component, and 15% had no entitlement to the daily living component.

It is inherent in the social security system that is currently in operation that certain individuals in the relevant age group will receive PIP as the ultimate replacement for DLA, and that benefit does not differentiate between day and night time care needs. Against that background it would be disproportionate to require evidence of night-time care needs from individuals who are assessed, for the purposes of the benefit available to them, to have the highest level of need.

Nonetheless, someone who is in receipt of PIP at the enhanced rate of the daily living component is likely to indicate higher disability-related costs in the same way that a child in receipt of higher-rate DLA will.

Payment to another person on behalf of a child

Regulation 11 of the 2020 Regulations[2] provides that Scottish Ministers may pay CWHA that is payable in respect of a young person, to another person, to be used on the young person's behalf. This regulation is not required to make payments to people appointed by the Scottish Ministers under the Social Security (Scotland) Act 2018.

This amendment extends the scope of regulation 11 to include paying CWHA in respect of a child to another person, to be used on the child's behalf.

CWHA is primarily an automatic payment, based on information that is received from DWP, or upon information already held by Social Security Scotland. It is standard practice for DWP to appoint an individual to receive DLA on behalf of a child or young person, so that a parent or legal guardian is usually appointed to receive DLA on behalf of the child.

In some cases, the nature of the relationship may not be immediately obvious. Under the Social Security (Scotland) Act 2018 (as amended), someone with parental rights and responsibilities[3] does not need to be formally appointed by Scottish Ministers. However, it is otherwise necessary to appoint someone who does not have these rights.

This provision will ensure that where Scottish Ministers cannot readily establish the nature of that relationship, they can still pay CWHA to the person appointed by DWP. There will be robust guidance in place for case managers to support them in considering whether payment should be made to another person on behalf of the child.

Scope of the CRWIA, identifying the children and young people affected by the policy, and summarising the evidence base

The scope of this EQIA is to look at the impact of extending the eligibility criteria for CWHA to include young people who are entitled to the enhanced rate of the daily living component of PIP.

Why is CWHA needed?

Households with a disabled family member are disproportionately overrepresented within fuel poverty statistics, with approximately 34% of fuel poor households containing someone with a disability[4].

Fuel poverty, as defined in the Scottish Fuel Poverty Statement, is when a household has to spend more than 10% of their income on fuel costs, in order to maintain a satisfactory heating regime.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) have defined this as 20°C in the living room and 18°C in other rooms, for 16 hours in every 24, unless the household is classified as "vulnerable", such as when at least one resident has a long term sickness or disability.

In these instances, the heating regime required is 23°C in the living room and 18°C in other rooms, for 16 hours per day.

The amendment to eligibility criteria will ensure CWHA eligibility is extended to include young people aged 16 to 18 in receipt of the enhanced daily living component of PIP and will be paid to each individual young person in a household and not per household.

Families with more than one severely disabled child or young person are more likely to spend more time at home and will have additional energy requirements due to their needs and will have to heat each room in the house optimally, according to those specific needs.

There may also be additional heating requirements due to physical inactivity and longer periods spent at home, additional laundry costs because of incontinence, necessitating bed linen and clothing being frequently washed; extra costs of cooking because of dietary requirements or nutritional needs; having to use electrical equipment; dishwashers needed to sterilise crockery and use of tumble dryers. Carers themselves may be on a reduced income or have had to give up work to care for a child.

Children and young people's views and experiences

Direct consultation has not been possible due to time constraints.

We have however incorporated research carried out with children and young people in the evidence we provided to support the original policy development. Additionally, we have previously consulted widely with stakeholders who represent and engage with disabled children and we have engaged with families of disabled children.

In addition consultation has been carried out with key stakeholders to find the best solution to ensure all those how most require financial support to combat the financial strain of heating a home when caring for those with the most severe care needs.

Key Findings, including an assessment of the impact on children's rights, and how the measure will contribute to children's wellbeing

Poverty in children and young people

It is estimated that 24% of children[5] (230,000 children each year) were living in relative poverty after housing costs in 2016-19. Before housing costs, it is estimated that 20% of children (200,000 children each year) were in relative poverty[6]. Children in this context refers to 'dependent children'; a dependent child is a person either aged 0-15, or aged 16-19 and: not married nor in a Civil Partnership nor living with a partner, and living with their parents, and in full-time non-advanced education or in unwaged government training.

It is estimated that in 2016-19, 65% of children in relative poverty after housing costs (150,000 children each year) were living in working households. Before housing costs, 64% of children in poverty (130,000 children) were living in working households.

Between 2016 and 2018, 34% of households (810,000) in Scotland were financially vulnerable[7]. A household is 'financially vulnerable' if there are not enough savings to cover basic living costs for three months. Basic living costs include average costs of rent, food and fuel, such as gas and electricity. The groups of households that are most likely to be financially vulnerable (workless, young, with children, lone parents) are often small, so the bulk of financially vulnerable households is made up of households with different characteristics.

The significance of the poverty rate is key as the longer that children experience poverty, the greater the damage to their health, wellbeing and life chances. From birth, without support, children living in poverty are twice as likely to fall behind their peers in all aspects of their development.

The link between poverty and child disability

Research has shown that poverty disproportionately affects those living with a disability, with disabled people experiencing higher poverty rates than the rest of the population[8]. UK-wide, disabled people make up 28% of people in poverty and a further 20% of people in poverty live in a household with a disabled person. This statistic is largely replicated in Scotland where around 410,000 households in poverty (42% of all households in poverty) include a disabled person or are disabled themselves[9].

Between 2017 and 2020, 11% (70,000) families in Scotland with dependent children had a disabled child or young person. Households with a disabled adult or disabled child, or both, have a higher proportion of children who live in relative poverty (29% compared to 22% for households without a disabled person)[10].

Disability and unemployment / under-employment are strongly correlated. 14% of 'workless families' (defined as families where parents are predominately out of work or have little connection to the labour market; who live in social rented accommodation and are reliant on benefits for their income) have one or more children with a disability or long-term illness. A further 17% of 'struggling to get by' families (unemployed or working part-time, half of which are single-parent families) have one or more children with a disability or long-term illness[11]. Child material deprivation in households containing a disabled person reaches 20% compared to 8% of households without a disabled person.

Even where one or more parent in the household is in employment, within families with a disabled child, the same level of income secures a lower standard of living than it would for a disabled person. Research conducted by the Papworth Trust[12] showed that the annual cost of bringing up a disabled child is three times greater than for a non-disabled child. Disabled people face higher costs than non-disabled people, such as the cost of specialist equipment, therapies and home adaptations to manage a condition[13]. Travel costs too, may be higher as families have to afford the cost of taxis to and from hospital where it is not possible to use public transport (and/or public transport may not be available).

Fuel poverty

The Scottish House Condition Survey data (December 2019)[14] indicates that around 613,000 households (24.6%) in Scotland live in fuel poverty, with 279,000 (12.4%) living in extreme fuel poverty. 16% of households in fuel poverty are families with children.

Households with a disabled family member are disproportionately over-represented within fuel poverty statistics, with approximately 34% of fuel poor households containing someone with a disability[15]. Fuel poverty, as defined in the Scottish Fuel Poverty Statement, is when a household has to spend more than 10% of their income on fuel costs, in order to maintain a satisfactory heating regime. The World Health Organisation (WHO) have defined this as 21oC in the living room and 18oC in other rooms, for 16 hours in every 24, unless the household is classified as "vulnerable", such as when at least one resident has a long term sickness or disability. In these instances, the heating regime required is 23oC in the living room and 18oC in other rooms, for 16 hours per day. In light of this guidance, the Scottish Fuel Poverty Definition Review Panel recommended in 2017 that for 'vulnerable households', including those of disabled people, the living room temperature recommendation should be 23oC and other rooms 20oC.

Unfortunately in spite of the WHO recommendations, research shows that vulnerable households often struggle to afford adequate energy consumption to meet their needs, resulting in having to choose between 'heating or eating'.

A report by the Children's Commission on Poverty in 2013 surveyed around 200 children between the ages of 10 and 17. Children were asked about the level of warmth in their homes during the winter. Over half of children who said that their family is 'not well off at all' (54%) also said that their homes were much or a bit colder than they would have liked[16].

In a 2015 study commissioned by Affordable Warmth Solutions (AWS) and undertaken by The Children's Society (TCS) and National Energy Action (NEA) which included 20 households, with a total of 20 adult participants and 35 children and young people, the following conclusions were reached. The effects of fuel poverty are far-reaching, spanning different areas of life (personal, social, economic) and penetrating deep into the rhythms and patterns of daily living. Attempts to cope with any given aspect of fuel poverty often result in aggravating other aspects of the problem, and people thereby unwittingly undermine their own efforts to manage.

The financial and emotional resources required to cope with the effects of fuel poverty leave inadequate room for pursuing dreams or for coping with life's other hardships. The effects of intervening to alleviate fuel poverty are far-reaching, with the potential to break cycles of negative consequence and foster positive outcomes in emotional and social, as well as economic, terms. The report makes a variety of policy recommendations including the provision of energy bill support and income support, in particular to the most vulnerable families with dependent children[17].

In an attempt to tackle fuel poverty amongst older people, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) makes an annual tax-free Winter Fuel Payment to pensioners, to help towards their winter heating costs. This payment is made automatically, without application, universally to those above pension age.

In the period 2018-2019, just under one million (999,360) people in Scotland received Winter Fuel Payments from DWP worth approximately £173 million. This will be devolved to Scotland in the coming years, with payments being made directly by Social Security Scotland.

This analysis of the research has identified that overall, the extension of the CWHA eligibility criteria has the potential to have positive impacts for severely disabled young people. The extended eligibility criteria will provide financial assistance to a further 3,900 young people and their families to cope with the additional pressures caused by winter fuel bills.

Extension of the eligibility criteria

Our assessment of the impact of this amendment on the relevant articles of the UNCRC are as follows:

Article 2 – No Discrimination

We recognise that young people (aged 16 to 18) who do not receive CDP or DLA because of their age may be disadvantaged in accessing CWHA.

The extended eligibility criteria ensures that equality is advanced between young people aged 16 to 18 who receive the highest rate of the care component of DLA, and young people of the same age who receive the enhanced rate of the daily living component of PIP.

It is inherent in the social security system that is currently in operation that certain individuals in the relevant age group will receive PIP as the ultimate replacement for DLA, and that benefit does not differentiate between day and night time care needs. Against that background it would be disproportionate to require evidence of night-time care needs from individuals who are assessed, for the purposes of the benefit available to them, to have the highest level of need.

Nonetheless, someone who is in receipt of PIP at the enhanced rate of the daily living component is likely to indicate higher disability-related costs in the same way that a child in receipt of higher-rate DLA will.

Article 3 - Best interests of the child

The policy intention of CWHA is to address the increased costs that disabled children, young people and their families incur as a result of having to heat the home to a higher temperature, throughout the day and night as a result of their disability.

Young people who receive a payment will be positively affected.

The extended eligibility criteria ensures that the best interests of young people who have the most severe needs have support with reducing the pressures caused by the additional financial costs of heating their home. This assistance can be spent without restriction, allowing households including a young disabled person to prioritise how this assistance is spent.

Article 12 - Respect for the views of the child

The views of young people have been taken into account in developing CWHA through the Consultation on Disability Assistance[18], as well through our social security experience panels. The Scottish Government has also considered carefully the views of stakeholders and individuals since CWHA has been launched in developing the extended eligibility criteria.

Article 23 - Children with disabilities

The financial payment provided by CWHA is intended to ensure that children and young people who receive it are financially compensated in respect of the additional financial pressures of heating their home due to the severity of their disability.

By ensuring that some of the additional costs incurred as a result of this additional care are mitigated, eligible disabled young people will have the option to engage in more activities of their choosing and not have to forego other aspects of their life due financial constraints put on them because of their disability.

In addition there will also be an indirect positive impact on the families and carers of these individuals through connected services.

Article 26 - Social security

CWHA has been developed for children and young people in Scotland. This amendment has taken account the views stakeholders. These changes to the eligibility criteria will ensure that CHWA is now accessible for all those that require it most and does not miss out some that need it most. This ensures we meet our underlying principles of dignity, fairness and respect.

Article 27 - Adequate Standard of Living

The policy intent of CWHA is to mitigate for the additional financial pressure of heating a home to care for a child or young person with the most severe care needs. CWHA is not means tested and while the intention is for the financial payment to be used for heating the home, the money does not need to be directly used for this purpose and can be used to pay for a number of things to improve the young person's standard of living such as transport, clothing, access to services, social activities or anything that may add to the standard of living of the young person.

Wellbeing

Wellbeing sits at the heart of the Getting It Right For Every Child (GIRFEC) approach and reflects the need to tailor the support and help that children, young people and their parents are offered to support their wellbeing.

Wellbeing indicators (Safe, Healthy, Achieving, Nurtured, Active, Respected, Responsible, Included) are set out in the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014. Of the eight indicators, CWHA policy positively relates to:

Healthy: The extension of the eligibility criteria of CWHA is intended to ensure that those that fall into this group and have the most severe of care needs receive the financial support they need when heating their home. This will ensure that households in this group do not suffer financially because of the young person's care needs and the young person is given the financial opportunity to live the best life possible.

Responsible: This extension of the eligibility criteria will also ensure that CWHA better reaches young people and families that require the assistance. This will also help to ensure the young person and their families have the financial assistance they require to lives a responsible life.

Included: This extension of the eligibility criteria ensures that those young people in receipt of the enhanced daily living component of PIP are now able to receive the same support as those who met the original eligibility criteria, this ensures the former group is not excluded from the support they require. This will ensure they do not have to forgo any element of their life due to financial constraints when compared to the original group for eligibility criteria.

Achieving: This extension of the eligibility criteria will ensure all who meet the new criteria will not be financially constrained due the fact that they have severe care needs that require a financial output to heat the home. This will ensure the young person can achieve the best in their life without worrying about financially implicating other areas.

Nurtured: The amendment toeligibility criteria will ensure that the additional group for eligibilities families will have the same opportunity as those in the original eligibility criteria to live a life where they are not impacted negatively from a nurtured respect.

Payment to another person on behalf of a child

Our assessment of the impact of the policy on the relevant articles of the UNCRC is as follows:

Article 2 – No Discrimination

The amendment will not discriminate against any child or young person and it is anticipated the effects will be broadly positive.

Article 3 - Best interests of the child

The amendment will ensure the best interests of the child are accounted for as it will ensure there is scope for Ministers to pay someone who has been formally appointed to receive DLA on behalf of the child, which will ensure payment is automatic and there is no delay in paying the child.

Article 26 - Social security

This amendment ensures Scottish Ministers can continue to make payments to individuals if they cannot immediately verify the nature of the relationship between the child and someone appointed to receive DLA on their behalf. This will ensure that payments continue to be made to those who need it most and by doing so we meet our underlying principles of dignity, fairness, and respect.

The following indicators of child's wellbeing have been considered:

Responsible: This amendment will ensure CWHA reaches the children and young people without delay this will ensure the young person and their families have the financial assistance they require to ensure the young person lives a responsible life.

Included: This amendment ensures that children and young people receive the CHWA they require and do not experience any delays in receiving payment.

Achieving: The amendment will ensure all who are eligible for CWHA receive payment and without delay. This will ensure the child or young person can achieve the best in their life without worrying about financially impacting other areas of the child's life.

Nurtured: The amendment towill ensure all those entitled to CWHA receive payment without delays are not impacted negatively from a nurtured respect.

Monitoring and review

The Scottish Government will undertake policy evaluation as part of a broader evaluation of devolved disability benefits. As part of this evaluation we will carry out an impact analysis on people from the protected characteristic groups identified in this document. The Social Security (Scotland) Act 2018 required the Scottish Government to create the Social Security Charter. The purpose the Charter is to set out what people should expect from the new social security system. It explains in clearer terms how we will uphold the Principles in the Act, how we will make sure that we are taking a human rights based approach to what we do and how we will demonstrate dignity, fairness and respect in all our actions[19].

A commitment to report on the impact on people with protected characteristics is set out in the Social Security (Scotland) 2018 Act Part 1 section 20 (c) and (d). It states that the annual report to Parliament must also contain "an assessment of how the Scottish social security system has affected the circumstances of persons living in households whose income is adversely affected, or whose expenditure is increased, because a member of the household has one or more protected characteristics within the meaning of section 4 of the Equality Act 2010, and a description of the data for the purpose of monitoring equality of opportunity used in preparing the report".

CRWIA Declaration

Authorisation

Policy lead
Jana Eyssel, Disability Benefits Policy Unit

Date
27 July 2021

Deputy Director or equivalent
Ian Davidson, Social Security Policy Division

Date
27 July 2021


Contact

Email: jana.eyssel@gov.scot