The Met Office has issued a cold weather alert, but if temperatures drop below zero degrees Celsius, you may be due a Cold Weather Payment if you’re getting certain benefits.
A level 2 cold weather alert has been issued for North East England, North West England, Yorkshire and Humber, West Midlands, East Midlands, the South East, London and the East of England, which means there is at least a 60% chance temperatures will drop to at least 2°C or below.
Will Lang, chief forecaster at the Met Office, says: “This week will see cold air spread across the UK as the wind changes to a northwesterly, in marked contrast to the recent mild weather.
“There will be rain or showers at times which could fall as sleet or snow, perhaps at lower levels, but also some winter sunshine. It will be cold at night with overnight frosts and a risk of ice.”
You could be due a Cold Weather Payment
But under the Government’s Cold Weather Payment scheme, if the temperature in your area is recorded as, or forecast to be, zero degrees celsius or below for seven consecutive days between 1 November 2015 and 31 March 2016, you’ll get £25.
If another seven day period of cold weather occurs, you’ll be paid another £25.
You don’t need to apply. If you’re eligible to get a Cold Weather Payment, you’ll be paid it automatically into the account your benefits are paid to. Payments are usually made within 14 days of the cold snap.
You may be eligible if you’re getting pension credit, income support, income-based jobseeker’s allowance, income-related employment and support allowance, or universal credit. Check Gov.uk for a full list of who’s usually eligible.
I think I’m eligible, but what should I do if I don’t get a payment?
Tell your pension centre or Jobcentre Plus office if you think you should have received a Cold Weather Payment but you haven’t. Also tell them if you go into hospital as this may affect your payment. If you’re getting Universal Credit, contact the helpline on 0345 600 0723.
You should also tell your Jobcentre Plus if you get income support, income-based jobseeker’s allowance or income-related employment and support allowance and you’ve had a baby, or a child under five has come to live with you, as you won’t automatically get a payment otherwise.
Prepare for colder weather
The Government has also published the following top tips to prepare for colder weather:
- Look out for friends and family who may be vulnerable to the cold and ensure they have access to warm food, drinks and are managing to heat their homes adequately.
- Try to maintain indoor temperatures to at least 18°C, particularly if you are not mobile, have long-term illness or are 65 or over.
- Stay tuned for weather forecasts, and ensure you are stocked with food and medications in advance (have deliveries or ask a friend to help).
- Take weather into account when planning your activity over the following days.
- Avoid exposing yourself to cold or icy outdoor conditions if you are at a higher risk of cold related illness or falls.
- Discuss with friends and neighbours about clearing snow and ice from in front of your house and public walkways nearby, if unable to do so yourself.