Snow triggers cold weather payments

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The 'Beast from the East' responsible for this week's cold snap has triggered millions of pounds of cold weather payments from the government, according to the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).

As of yesterday £56 million had been given out since November to support those on benefits in areas hit by the cold snap.

The payments of £25 for each seven-day, cold-weather period are paid automatically to those on Pension Credits and other income-related benefits to help with heating costs.

The trigger for the payment is when the local temperature falls below zero for seven consecutive days.

This week's cold weather - the result of a cold weather front sweeping in from Russia – has nearly trebled the number of triggers. Until last week there had only been 25 triggers. Now, there have been 71.

A spokesperson for the DWP, which handles the payments, said the hardest hit areas were parts of Yorkshire and the Scottish Highlands.

"There are a lot of rural areas which have had payments. At this point we've only made about half the number of payments we had made at the same point last year," the spokesperson added.

How to claim?

There is no need to claim for the payments as they are sent out automatically to those who qualify. The payments are only available between the beginning of November and the end of March.

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