What are cold weather payments?

Not to be confused with the similarly titled Winter Fuel Payments, Cold Weather Payments are available to people in receipt of certain qualifying benefits or Support for Mortgage Interest, under specific conditions in the winter months.

If eligible, between the 1st November 2020 and the 31st March 2021 you will receive a £25 payment for every 7 day consecutive period in which the temperature in your area stays on or below 0℃. The weather data is taken from MET Office weather stations around the UK which are linked to each and every postcode. This data can then be used to determine which areas qualify. The payment is designed to cover the increased cost of staying warm during extreme periods of cold weather and should be paid into your bank or building society account automatically.

The eligibility criteria can be a little confusing, so each instance is laid out in detail below. It is also important to note that to qualify for this payment the temperature must be 0℃, or below across an entire seven day period. This is monitored and authorised by local authorities and even one day of 1℃ over any given seven days will mean the payment will not be made.

Eligibility

Receiving one or more benefits will not necessarily mean that you will automatically qualify for the Cold Weather Payments. Certain benefits come with caveats that need to be satisfied before any payment will be authorised:

Pension Credit– If you receive Pension Credit then it is also highly likely that you will be automatically credited with Cold Weather Payments as appropriate.

Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI)– Being in receipt of SMI will usually make you automatically eligible for the Cold Weather payments.

Income Support or income based Jobseeker’s allowance– Either of these benefits alone does not automatically meet the required criteria for this payment. Generally speaking, to receive Cold Weather Payments you must also be in receipt of a disability or pensioner premium, Child Tax Credit that includes a disability element, be living with a child who is disabled or have a child that is under 5 living with you.

Income related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)– If you are in receipt of an income related ESA and in a support group or work related activity group, then you should qualify for the payment. If you are not, then you may still qualify if you are in receipt of a pensioner premium, a severe or enhanced disability premium, Child Tax Credit that includes a disability element, or you are living with a child who is disabled or have a child that is under 5 living with you.

Universal Credit– If you are not currently employed or you are self-employed, you will be eligible for the Cold Weather Payments as long as one of these conditions applies to you; You have a child under 5 living with you, and/ or you have a health condition or disability that means you have a limited capacity to work (whether or not you are currently undertaking a work related activity).

If you have a disabled child amount in your claim, irregardless of your employment status, you will be eligible for the Cold Weather Payments.

Making a Claim

If you are eligible for the payment and your details and circumstances are fully up to date, you should not need to do anything with regards to claiming the Cold Weather Payment.

Every instance during the qualifying period (1st November 2020 – 31st March 2021) where for seven consecutive days, the temperature remains at or below 0℃ in your area an automatic payment should be made. This will usually be to the same bank or building society account that you currently receive your other benefits.

If you have not received the Cold Weather Payment and you believe that you are eligible, contact your jobcentre plus office or pension centre as soon as possible. If you are currently in receipt of Universal Credit, the easiest way to have your eligibility assessed is to log into your account and add a note to your journal. If you do not have an online account, you will need to call the Universal Credit helpline.

The whole point of making this process automated is to ensure that payments are made to the right people in an efficient and timely manner. However, this  automation also means that keeping your details up to date is more important than ever to make sure that you are receiving the correct benefits. You must declare with your pension centre, jobcentre plus office or through Universal credit if your circumstances change. This can include informing the relevant authority if you go into hospital, have a baby, or a child under five comes to live with you.

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