MORE than £30 million was allocated to help Scottish households tackle increased energy costs this winter, official figures showed.

Data from the Scottish Government showed the Winter Heating Payment (WHP), which supports low-income households, the elderly, and disabled people, paid out £23 million to vulnerable Scottish people.

The WHP scheme made 417,885 payments of £55.05 between November 2023 and the end of March 2024.

A separate winter benefit to help families of the most severely disabled children and young people paid £7.2m, with 30,400 payments of £235.70 made throughout the winter period.

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Shirley-Anne Somerville, Social Justice Secretary, said the benefit guarantees payments every year, in contrast to the UK Government’s Cold Weather Payment, which was replaced by Scottish Government ministers in 2023.

The UK benefit allocates funding when the temperature drops to 0C or below over seven consecutive days.

Statistics also showed more than 99% of Winter Heating Benefits had been issued by the end of February, while the child-specific fund showed 98% were made in November.

Somerville said: “The £30.2m paid over the course of winter provides support to those who need it most. “It is being paid quickly and effectively to help mitigate the worst of the cost-of-living crisis.

“Winter Heating Payment guarantees those who qualify will get a payment every year – in contrast to the UK Government approach which needs the weather to be under a certain temperature for a sustained spell.”

She said the benefits increased with inflation, adding: “I am pleased we are getting the vast majority of these payments to people in good time.”