Winter Heating Payment (Low Income) (Scotland): island communities impact assessment

This island communities impact assessment ICIA) sets out to assess the specific impact of the introduction of the Winter Heating Payment on Scottish island communities.

Key Findings

12. This section provides an overview of issues for Scottish island communities that are relevant for the introduction of WHP.

13. Island stakeholders have emphasised the importance of understanding the island experience. Every island is uniquely different with regards to its infrastructure, geography and demography and therefore each island has its own specific considerations and constraints. Rural Scotland accounts for 98% of the land mass of Scotland and 17% of the population are resident there.

14. Scotland had 93 inhabited islands with a total population of 103,700 (2% of Scotland's population) as per 2011 Census.[5] Of these islands, only five are connected to the Scottish mainland by bridge or causeway[6]. The Islands Act identifies 6 local authorities representing island communities in Part 4 of the Act (Section 20 (2)), which are Argyll and Bute Council, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar/ Western Isles, Highland Council, North Ayrshire Council, Orkney Islands Council, Shetland Islands Council. Amongst them, Orkney, Shetland and Western Isles are entirely island authorities, while Highland, Argyll and Bute and North Ayrshire local authorities cover island regions as well as mainland regions.

15. We know that the difference in weather conditions between some island communities and the location of the weather stations which would trigger a Cold Weather Payment under the DWP system has been a source of frustration to some people for a number of years. Moreover, island communities have rarely benefit from the support provided through CWPs due to the current weather dependency measures, which doesn't reflect the unique climate of island life, such as wind chill and driving rain.

16. The unpredictable nature of weather dependent payments is one of the key drivers of our proposed change in approach. We intend to remove the dependence on cold weather altogether and acknowledge that, regardless of temperature it is more likely to be difficult for people on low income benefits to spend more money to heat their homes in the winter. Whether that is because of the weather, the cost of fuel or the efficiency of their heating system or insulation, it will still require them to spend more money.

17. Therefore, we believe that island communities are likely to benefit from the introduction of WHP as they have historically had very few CWPs despite temperatures feeling cold because of the distinctive island climate. Island residents who are in receipt of a qualifying low-income benefit and specific premium will now receive a guaranteed £50 payment each year.

Figure 1 : This is a maphighlighting all 6 local authorities representing Island Communities (islands in darker shades where islands are part of mainland Local Authorities) [7]
Map of Scotland highlighting the 6 local authorities erpresenting Island Communities - Argyll and Bute Council, Western Isles, Highland Council, North Ayrshire Council, Orkney Islands Council and Shetland Islands Council.



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