£59m handed out in Cold Weather Payments
Price comparison site Uswitch.com analysed the data and compared it with previous years. Zero payments were made in the same period last year, 1,084,000 in 2019, and 99,000 in 2018 — the year of The Beast From The East.
The £25 Cold Weather Payments are made to eligible households when the temperature recorded at their local weather station is at or below 0°C for seven consecutive days.
Conditions have been triggered seven times each in Tulloch Bridge, Loch Glascarnoch, and Braemar — all in Scotland. Redesdale, Northumberland, has met the criteria six times, while places as far south as Bedford, and Boscombe Down, Wiltshire, have also been activated.
In 2020, there were no cold weather payments made in the same period, while 1,084,000 were sent out in 2019. Even in 2018, the year of the Beast From The East, conditions were only triggered 21 times in the first six weeks of the year, with 99,000 payments made in that time.
Will Owen, energy expert at Uswitch.com, said: “These figures show how many people are battling through freezing temperatures at a time when many household budgets are already stretched to the limit.
“Cold Weather Payments help many vulnerable people to keep the heating on when they might not be able to afford it, and they are more valuable than ever this year.
“There are plenty of ways you can act to keep warm when the mercury plunges, including bleeding your radiators regularly to prevent them getting cold spots, and keeping obstructions such as sofas away from them, as the objects will absorb the heat.
“Draught-proofing is another quick and cost effective way to warm up your home and you can even save around £20 per year on your utility bills. We recommend fitting door seals between the door itself and the frame, and for gaps between the bottom of the door and the floor, you can buy a special ‘brush’ or hinged flap draught excluder.”
Rival price comparison website Energyhelpline.com is calling for the Cold Weather Payment scheme to be changed so it better fits UK weather patterns and more households benefit.