Revealed: £59m has been paid out in Cold Weather Payments already this year compared to ZERO in the same period of 2020
- Cold Weather Payments are given to homes when it is below freezing
- More than 2m of the £25 payments have been handed out already this year
- By comparison, in the same time last year, no payments were made at all
Around £59million has been automatically paid out in Cold Weather Payments in the first weeks of 2021, new data shows.
Some 2,374,000 payments have been made after sub-zero conditions triggered the boost for those living in many postcodes, according to Office for National Statistics data.
The £25 payments are made to eligible households when the temperature recorded at their local weather station is at or below zero degrees Celsius for seven consecutive days.
The number of payments made out this year marks a huge jump – in 2020, there were no cold weather payments made in the same period, while around 1million were sent out by now in 2019.
Cold Weather Payments will be given to homes where temperatures are below zero for a week
Even in 2018, the year of the Beast From The East, conditions were only triggered 21 times in the first six weeks of the year, with 99,000 payments made in that time.
Conditions have been triggered seven times this year in some areas: Tulloch Bridge, Loch Glascarnoch and Braemar — all in Scotland.
Redesdale, Northumberland, has met the criteria six times, while places as far south as Bedford, and Boscombe Down, Wiltshire, have also been activated.
Households in many postcodes have been eligible as the UK has seen a period of icy cold weather including snowstorms and freezing temperatures for days on end in February.
Who is eligible for the Cold Weather Payment?
The Cold Weather Payment scheme runs from the start of November to the end of March.
Households on Pension Credit, Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Universal Credit and Support for Mortgage Interest will be eligible.
They will not have to apply for the payment and will automatically be sent it.
The current rate is £25 for the week with a long cold spell likely to lead to a series of £25 payments being issued.
The UK has seen a period of icy weather including snowstorms & freezing temperatures
Will Owen, energy expert at comparison website Uswitch which combed the data, said: ‘These figures show how many people are battling through freezing temperatures at a time when many household budgets are already stretched to the limit.
‘Cold Weather Payments help many vulnerable people to keep the heating on when they might not be able to afford it, and they are more valuable than ever this year.
‘There are plenty of ways you can act to keep warm when the mercury plunges, including bleeding your radiators regularly to prevent them getting cold spots, and keeping obstructions such as sofas away from them, as the objects will absorb the heat.
‘Draught-proofing is another quick and cost effective way to warm up your home and you can even save around £20 per year on your utility bills.
‘We recommend fitting door seals between the door itself and the frame, and for gaps between the bottom of the door and the floor, you can buy a special brush or hinged flap draught excluder.’
Households containing older people could also take advantage of the Winter Fuel Payment scheme.
Those eligible must be born on or before 5 October 1954 and could get between £100 and £300 to help pay their heating bills.
They will receive it automatically if they’re eligible and either getting the state pension or getting another social security benefit.
If you do not get either of these, or if you live abroad, you may need to make a claim.
If you’ve got a Winter Fuel Payment before, you do not need to claim again unless you’ve deferred your state pension or moved abroad.
Most payments are made automatically in November or December and households should get their money by 31 March 2021.
Customers who still think they are paying too much for their energy bill are encouraged to use price comparison services to see if they could save money by switching supplier and tariff.
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