Thousands could miss out on £25 towards winter electricity bills due to locationDecember 15, 2018
In some instances, just living a street away from your neighbours could mean the difference between getting a pay out.
Cold weather payments of £25 for each seven-day period of very cold weather between November 1 and March 31, are automatically paid to households who receive certain benefits.
To qualify, the average weather over a seven-day period has to be recorded as, or forecast to be, zero degrees celsius or below.
These temperature readings are taken from nearby weather stations, but in some cases they could be miles away from where you live.
For example, households living in the E17 postcode district on the outskirts of North East London get their weather readings from a station around 30 miles away in South West London.
Do I qualify for cold weather payments?
- You get Universal Credit and you’re not employed or self-employed and you have a health condition or disability and/or a child under five living with you
- You get Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI)
- You get income-related ESA and are in a work-related activity group or support group. Or, if you’re not in either group, you might get cold weather payments if you have a severe or enhanced disability premium, a pensioner premium, a child who is disabled, a Child Tax Credit that includes a disability or severe disability element or a child under five living with you
- You get Income Support or income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance and have a disability or pensioner premium, a child who is disabled, Child Tax Credit that includes a disability or severe disability element or a child under five living with you
- You get Pension Credit
Another example is the BN1 postcode district which covers a region of the hilly South Downs near Brighton, yet is linked to a weather station some 45 miles away on the Sussex coast in Thorney Island.
And these miles can make a big difference to the weather in certain areas of the country.
Hywel Williams, the MP for Arfon in Wales has tabled a private member's bill asking for a review of the system after calling it a "postcode lottery".
He uses the example of his constituency where some members live in the mountainous Snowdonia region, yet their meter readings are taken in Anglesey – a flat, coastal area.
Mr Hywel says the temperature in these regions can vary by as much as 4.3C.
In his bill he wrote: "Some vulnerable people are missing out because of how the areas where the weather is sufficiently cold to trigger the payments are defined—that is, by postcode.
"That is hitting people in upland areas of my Arfon constituency and, I have no doubt, in other upland areas across Wales and England."
One solution he put forward is to use more weather stations to monitor the temperature.
"I note that, at present, the Department uses information from only about half of the 200 available Met Office weather stations," Mr Hywel wrote.
"Perhaps using more stations or alternative stations could be debated…"
The next stage of the Bill – a second reading – is scheduled to take place on January 25, 2019.
A spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pensions told The Sun:"We work to get the most accurate temperature readings and review the scheme each year.”
In another postcode lottery, a new energy price cap means firms could charge you up to £62 more than others based on where you live.
Meanwhile, brushing your teeth in the shower could be costing you almost £30 more a year – eight bad home habits that push up energy bills revealed.
Plus, the £1 insulation fix that could prevent frozen pipes.
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