Neil Gray MSP is urging all of his constituents to complete the Scottish Government’s consultation on the new Low-Income Winter Heating Assistance payment which can guarantee low income households £50 towards fuel bills.
The Low-Income Winter Heating Assistance will be introduced from winter 2022 to replace the current UK Government Cold Weather Payment scheme. It will provide around 400,000 low income households the reassurance of a guaranteed £50 payment every winter.
The current UK Government benefit triggers a £25 payment only when temperatures are recorded or forecast at below zero degrees Celsius for seven days in a row. The replacement Low Income Winter Heating Assistance benefit from the Scottish Government will provide financial stability, no matter the weather.
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Last year there were over 850,0000 cold weather payments made totalling £21.5 million, up from only 7000 payments the previous year.
The Airdrie and Shotts MSP, who is also the Convener of the Holyrood Social Justice and Social Security Committee, said: “This new payment is being introduced to bring some form of financial security to those who may be struggling to heat their homes during the colder months.
"Sometimes the trigger for the existing payment doesn’t action as temperatures may not be cold enough on the correct number of days, with this new assistance, it is a guaranteed £50 at the start of winter to help with bills.
“It is right, though that the thoughts of those who may receive it are taken into account. I would urge all constituents in Airdrie & Shotts to fill in the consultation and let the Scottish Government know how they think the payment should work.”
Social Security Minister Ben Macpherson, said: “Low Income Winter Heating Assistance will be an investment of around £20 million every year to reliably support people towards the costs of heating their homes irrespective of the weather, temperature, or where they live in Scotland.
“Although Cold Weather Payments have been a valuable support for some during periods of very cold weather, there have been some years when hardly any payments have been made at all by the UK Government.
“If winters, as predicted, are due to become generally wetter and warmer then this may also reduce the numbers of Cold Weather Payments in the future. We want people to have certainty about receiving a payment.
“Our proposed new benefit will be the equivalent to two payments of Cold Weather Payment and should ensure that most people will be better off. Significantly, it will also enable us to provide assistance to more households that are at risk of fuel poverty.”