Households may be able to claim a ‘Cold Weather Payment’, as the Met Office has issued a severe weather warning, with temperatures set to plummet between now and Friday 6 January.
The agency says there is an 80% chance of “severe cold weather” in the next three days, and warns the elderly and vulnerable to take extra precautions during the cold spell.
It says a northerly air flow will cause widespread frost across much of the country. More cold weather and frost is expected on Thursday and Friday, moving westwards as the week progresses.
Cold weather means you’re likely to turn up your heating, which in turn means higher energy bills, but the government offers some assistance for those facing increased heating costs.
People who receive government benefits may be eligible for a Cold Weather Payment if the temperature in their local area falls below zero for seven consecutive days.
You may receive this payment if you get pension credit, income support, income-related jobseeker’s allowance, income-related employment and support allowance or universal credit.
The scheme runs until 31 March 2017 and offers an automatic payment of £25 for each seven-day period of cold weather. The cash should be paid to all those eligible within 14 days, straight into the bank or building account as your benefit payments.
To check whether your area has been cold enough to be eligible for a Cold Weather Payment, use the government’s postcode tool.
Tell your pension centre or Jobcentre Plus office if you think you should have received a Cold Weather Payment but you haven’t.
Cold Weather Payments are different to Winter Fuel Payments, which apply to people born on or before 5 May 1953. These are paid automatically if you get state pension or another social security benefit and are typically paid in November and December.
Claimants who haven’t received their payment for 2016/17 should call the Winter Fuel Payment Centre on 03459 151 515.
Stay warm during winter
The NHS offers the following tips to stay warm during the winter:
- Draw curtains and keep doors closed to block out draughts.
- Have regular hot drinks and eat at least one hot meal a day if possible.
- Wear several light layers of warm clothes (rather than one chunky layer).
- Keep as active in your home as possible.
- Wrap up warm and wear shoes with a good grip if you need to go outside.