Winter Heating Payments Will Support More People on Low Incomes
Social Security Minister Ben Macpherson has today (Thursday 15 December) given evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Social Justice & Social Security Committee on regulations to introduce a new winter benefit.
Subject to parliamentary approval, Winter Heating Payment will provide around 400,000 people on low incomes, in receipt of certain benefits, with a reliable £50 annual payment to help with their heating expenses every winter. The payments will total around £20 million per year and will be made from February 2023.
Winter Heating Payment will replace the UK Government’s Cold Weather Payment scheme in Scotland, helping more people with their bills. Cold Weather Payment is unpredictable, and only triggers a £25 payment when temperatures fall below zero degrees Celsius on average for seven days in a row at certain weather stations.
Winter Heating Payment will be the 13th benefit to be introduced by the Scottish Government, to be delivered by Social Security Scotland. Plans for the payment have been welcomed by people with experience of the benefits system – with 90% of Social Security Experience Panel members agreeing with removal of the ‘cold spell’ requirement to provide a more reliable payment.
I welcome the more consistent, reliable approach the Scottish Government is taking with its replacement of the UK Cold Weather Payment – with more people on low incomes set to be supported here in Angus and across the country.
The annual investment in Winter Heating Payments will be more than double the average paid out each year under the scheme it is replacing.
With the limited powers and budget available to it, this Scottish Government is doing everything it can to support people through the current cost of living crisis – through the range of devolved benefits and other means.
The Winter Heating Payment will be the latest of many new devolved benefits being delivered by Social Security Scotland, as the building of a better welfare system continues apace.
– Social Security Minister Ben Macpherson
Winter Heating Payment will replace Cold Weather Payments with a reliable annual payment of £50, which will be made automatically to around 400,000 eligible people in Scotland this winter. This will help more people than Cold Weather Payments of £25, which on average have supported around 185,000 people in recent years.
Cold Weather Payments have been unpredictable over the years because they are dependent on sustained cold weather to trigger a payment. Instead, our new Winter Heating Payment will break the link with weather dependency and help those in need wherever they live in Scotland and whatever the weather is like in their area.
People will be able to rely on getting Winter Heating Payment every year, rather than having to hope it gets cold enough for long enough before receiving a payment.
The Scottish Government will invest £20 million per year in Winter Heating Payment – which compares with an average of £8.3 million paid out annually in Scotland under the Cold Weather Payment scheme.
We know people on low incomes are struggling with rising energy bills and that is why we have also doubled the Fuel Insecurity Fund this winter and we are continuing to press the UK Government to use all of its powers to tackle the cost of living crisis.
I would encourage anyone looking for more information and help with their energy costs right now to visit mygov.scot/costoflivingsupport.
An individual may be eligible to receive Winter Heating Payment if they are in receipt of any of: Pension Credit; Income Support; income-based Jobseekers Allowance; income-related Employment & Support Allowance; Universal Credit; Support for Mortgage Interest.
As with the current Cold Weather Payments, additional qualifying criteria for some of these benefits may also need to be satisfied – for example in relation to disability premiums paid to the client, or if a disabled child is in their household.
Between 2015-16 and 2021-22, Cold Weather Payments provided around £8.3 million to around 185,000 people on average per year.