The Scottish Commission on Social Security (SCoSS) welcomes the draft Regulations enabling the introduction of Winter Heating Allowance for Children and Young People, which we will refer to in this report as Child Winter Heating Assistance (CWHA). This new £200 annual lump sum payment will provide additional support with winter fuel costs to children and young people who are in receipt of the highest rate of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) care component.
SCoSS appreciates just how critical this support is likely to be at this time, due to increased financial hardship and especially with the anticipated increase in fuel poverty resulting from COVID-19.
Winter Heating Assistance was contained in regulation 17 of the draft Disability Assistance for Children and Young People (Scotland) Regulations 2020 (DACYP). The introduction of these separate regulations for CWHAis a welcome pragmatic response to the unavoidable delays to the laying of the DACYP Regulations, due to the challenging context of COVID-19. Crucially, this will allow CWHA to be payable in time for the coming winter for children and young people on DLA. Entitlement will then later be broadened to include children and young people receiving Child Disability Payment once the DACYP regulations come into effect.
Recommendation 11 in our scrutiny report on the draft DACYP regulations called on the Scottish Government to attend to a number of technical issues concerning CWHA. In her letter referring the draft CWHA regulations to SCoSS, the Cabinet Secretary confirmed that a number of revisions had been made to take these into account, including:
- Clarifying in regulations that children who get DLA and live in other parts of the UK are not eligible;
- Ensuring that children are entitled if the relevant rate of DLA for the qualifying week is awarded late as a result of, for instance, an appeal;
- Inclusion of a provision to allow access to CWHA when DLA is awarded to correct an official error;
- Clarification that the payment is made on ‘per individual’ basis rather than ‘per household’
This scrutiny report on the separate draft CWHA regulations builds on our scrutiny of the related provision in the draft DACYP regulations.