Freezing weather triggers cold weather payouts as charity heads warn millions ‘in danger’

Frigid Arctic air swept in bringing with it treacherous sub-zero temperatures (PA) (PA Archive)

Low-income people in hundreds of postal districts in England and Wales will receive a £25 emergency cold weather payment due to freezing conditions.

It comes as heads of charities have warned that millions of people across the UK struggling to pay their energy bills and have their homes heated are now ‘in jeopardy’ from the cold snap.

According to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, some three million low-income families cannot afford to heat their homes, with 710,000 of the poorest families unable to meet their needs for warm clothing, heating and food.

Emergency payments have now been triggered for those on subsidies in areas where the average temperature has been recorded as – or is predicted to be – 0C or lower for seven consecutive days, the Department of Health said. work and pensions (DWP).

Cold weather payments have been triggered in areas of the North West, including Rochdale, Greater Manchester, in parts of the South West, such as near Exeter, and in Nottingham in the East Midlands, among others.

Parts of Powys in east central Wales, Oxfordshire and Herefordshire have also had postcodes affected. The public can check if it is in an eligible postcode district on the government website.

The £25 bank top-up will be in eligible people’s bank accounts within 14 days of activation, the government said.

People applying for Universal Credit, Retirement Credit, income-based Unemployment Benefit, and income-related Work and Support Allowance may be eligible for cold weather payments.

Cold weather payments are only paid in England and Wales. In Scotland, people on benefits or low incomes are eligible for a £50 annual winter heating payment, although this is done regardless of low temperatures.

National Energy Action has urged Rishi Sunak’s government to provide more targeted support with energy bills for “those most in danger” during the winter.

Adam Scorer, chief executive, said: “Shockingly high prices and now cold weather will leave millions struggling to stay warm and safe at home. Every day we hear of people being forced to turn off their heating when they need it most.”

Rachelle Earwaker, senior economist at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said: “The government needs to make sure that households won’t be able to make it through the winter on current levels of support.”

Research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation shows that one-fifth of all low-income households are currently without the food and heat they need this winter.

It comes as the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has issued a Level 3 cold warning covering England until Monday. Temperatures were expected to drop to minus 10C in some rural areas overnight, while most of the country would wake up to 0C or lower.

A DWP spokesperson said: “Cold payments can be triggered until the end of March, giving people facing disproportionately cold weather that extra reassurance during the colder months.”

“On top of this, we will be providing households with £400 towards their energy bills this winter, with our Energy Price Guarantee saving the typical household another £900.”

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