Cold weather payment is a state benefit awarded when local temperatures drop, or are forecasted to drop, to zero degrees celsius over seven consecutive days. Many cold weather payments have been triggered in recent weeks as snow befell the UK and the DWP released official statistics on how many people were estimated to receive these payments from November to February.
Additionally, analysis from comparethemarket.com revealed that more than a million households became eligible for cold weather payments due to storm Darcy.
Storm Darcy first emerged from the Dutch weather service and according to the Met Office, it brought strong winds and snow to the south east of England in early February.
The storm also led to temperatures of -16 being recorded in the Scottish Highlands, the lowest recording in the UK since 2010.
Dr Owen Landeg, Group Leader, Extreme Events and Health Protection at PHE, commented on this and urged vulnerable people to take cold weather seriously: “Cold weather isn’t just uncomfortable it can have a serious impact on health. For older people and those with heart and lung problems it can increase the risks of heart attacks, strokes and chest infections.
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“So, it’s really crucial at this time to remember to check on frail or older neighbours or relatives, especially those living alone or who have serious illnesses.
“Make a call, or socially-distanced doorstep visit if they live close by, to remind them of some simple but important health tips such as heating their home to at least 18 C (64.4 F) and to keep up to date with the forecast.
“It’s also helpful to check they have enough food and drinks and any medicines they need. This will help them to stay warm and stay well.”
Keeping homes warm is behind the design of cold weather payments and other similar benefits such as winter fuel payments and given this, Sofia Hutson, an energy spokesperson at comparethemarket.com, noted it was concerning that people aren’t utilising the support.
Eligible recipients of cold weather payments should not have to apply, they should be paid automatically if they qualify.
People may be eligible for cold weather payments if they’re getting any of the following:
- Pension credit
- Income support
- Income-based jobseeker’s allowance
- Income-related employment and support allowance
- Universal Credit
- Support for mortgage interest
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