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.


18. Geography, crofting culture, climate and the remoteness of island and rural communities present different challenges to those experienced by families living in the mainland, often resulting in higher levels of fuel poverty in these areas. Citizens Advice Scotland[8] have specifically identified issues regarding being off the gas grid as key barriers for people in accessible rural, remote rural and remote small towns.

19. The colder climate and wind chill factor on the islands means that for many residents, homes may have heating on throughout the whole year. If the household also has a low income, such as is often experienced by those with one or more disabled members of the family, then they are more likely to be in extreme fuel poverty.

20. The National Islands Plan[9] acknowledges that extreme fuel poverty rates are higher for most of the island authorities. We also know that extreme fuel poverty can be particularly difficult to eliminate in island communities where building types are harder to improve to the required energy efficiency standard and opportunities to reduce fuel costs are more limited. In addition, traditionally constructed buildings and energy efficiency challenges can vary between the islands. Higher living costs on islands, combined with higher fuel costs, for households on low incomes, can create the conditions for extreme fuel poverty.

21. The introduction of WHP will ensure that people who are more likely to experience fuel poverty receive assistance to help towards maintaining a comfortable temperature in their homes through the winter. Data collected and published by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) on CWP triggers shows that the island communities rarely benefit from the support provided through CWPs due to the current weather dependency measures[10].

22. CWP data shows (see table below) that between 2015 and 2022 only 13 cold weather triggers had been identified within 5 of the 8 weather stations which are associated with island communities. That means 3 of these weather stations have not had a single trigger, resulting in no payments being made to the island communities associated with them, since 2015.

23. 854,000 Cold Weather Payments (CWP) were estimated to have been made in winter 2020/2021, 110,000 were (9.1 %) made to people living in areas covered by weather stations which include island communities. However, 105,000 of those payments were made in the Auchincruive weather station area, where the vast majority of people will live on the mainland. In winter 2021/22, DWP estimates show there were no triggers within island communities.

Cold Weather Triggers affecting Island Communities 2015-2022

(Please notethe total eligible recipients shown below could live on islands, but for some weather stations the majority will live on the mainland).

Weather Station 2015-16 2016-17 2017-18 2018-19 2019-20 2020-21 2021-22 Estimated eligible recipients (2021-22)
Achnagart (e.g. Isle of Skye) 0 1 1 1 0 1 0 1,000
Auchincruive (e.g. Isle of Bute) 0 0 1 0 0 3 0 35,000
Dunstaffnage (e.g. Isle of Mull, Lismore) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1,000
Kirkwall (Orkney) 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1,000
Lerwick (Shetland) 0 0 1 0 0 2 0 1,000
Machrihanish (e.g. Jura, Islay, Gigha) 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1,000
Stornoway (e.g. Harris, Lewis, Barra, N. & S. Uist) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2,000
Tiree (e.g. Tiree, Colonsay, Coll, Eigg, Rum, Muck) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 <100
Scotland Total Annual Triggers 22 11 61 25 7 76 6
Islands Postcode Triggers Total Annual 0 1 3 1 0 8 0

24. Given the low numbers of cold weather triggers at weather stations associated with island communities we expect all island communities will benefit from this change in policy and we do not anticipate a differing affect across the islands.



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