As a 31 March 2023, almost 400,000 low-income households had automatically received their £50 winter heating payment to support them with their energy bills for this winter. All will have received a letter explaining their entitlement to the benefit.
Our first release of official statistics on winter heating payments will be published on 6 June 2023, and they will be released annually, in the future. The statistics will include additional local authority area breakdowns and will be available on Social Security Scotland’s website.
We look forward to the local authority breakdowns. In my constituency, areas such as Braemar and Aboyne have been recognised as having some of the coldest temperatures in the United Kingdom, and previously constituents could have received more than triple the current £50 flat rate. What consideration has the Scottish Government given to people who are now missing out on receiving support that they previously had under the UK’s cold weather payment?
O ne of the challenges of the previous scheme, which the winter heating payment scheme has tried to resolve, was that nobody knew how much money they were going to get each year. It was, of course, weather dependent but it did not include aspects such as wind-chill factor, and there was a great challenge in terms of where weather stations are. That created great challenges for people in some parts of the country, who did not receive money that they thought they should be receiving.
With the benefit, we have tried to ensure that people know how much they will receive and when they will receive it, so that there is certainty about what is happening. That is very important when we look at the cost of living crisis that has been exacerbated by Tory mismanagement of the UK economy, including energy prices.