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Cold Weather Payments are made from the Social Fund to certain recipients of Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Universal Credit or Pension Credit during periods of very cold weather.  To “trigger” the payments, the average temperature at a specified weather station must be recorded as, or forecast to be, 0°C or below for seven consecutive days.  The scheme runs from 1 November to 31 March each year.

The payment is a fixed amount for each week of cold weather.  For many years this was set at £8.50 a week but the Labour Government increased the rate to £25 a week as a temporary measure for winters 2008/2009 and 2009/2010.  In 2010, the Coalition Government made the £25 rate permanent.

In the last few winters, relatively mild weather meant that far fewer payments were made compared with previous years.  In winter 2015/2016, 155,000 payments were made totalling £3.9 million. This was low compared with the previous year, in which DWP made 422,000 awards totalling £10.6 million.  Winter 2013/2014 was exceptionally mild and payments “triggered” in one area only (postcodes linked to the Braemar weather station) in one week.  Only 1,100 payments were made, totalling £27,500.

Payments are made automatically to those entitled to them.  There should be no need to make a claim, but people who think they may be entitled but do not receive a payment should contact their Pension, Disability and Carers Service, or Jobcentre Plus.

Further background on the scheme can be found in Library standard note SN/SP/696, Cold Weather Payments.  Information is also available at GOV.UK, and the DWP website has a series of Frequently Asked Questions on Cold Weather Payments.  There is also a search facility showing when payments have been triggered at particular postcodes.

Cold Weather Payments are entirely separate from both the Winter Fuel Payments scheme and the annual “Christmas Bonus” paid to pensioners and claimants of certain other benefits.

This note covers the Cold Weather Payments scheme in Great Britain.  A separate but equivalent scheme exists in Northern Ireland.

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