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Are you entitled to a Cold Weather Payment?

Written by: Emma Lunn
The Energyhelpline has called for changes to Cold Weather Payment scheme to better support the most vulnerable during colder months.

Government data shows that out of the 3.65 million eligible for the financial support, only 7,000 households received payments last winter

Under the scheme, vulnerable households can claim £25 a week towards their energy bill in periods of especially cold weather.

For the money to be claimed, the temperature must be zero degrees or less for seven or more consecutive days based on official Met Office readings. But Met Office data shows that current criteria for the scheme doesn’t align with the average UK climate.

Despite the current cold snap, it’s rare that places across the UK drop and stay below 0°C for such a sustained period of time according to Met Office average weather data over the past 30 years.

This leaves households left unable to qualify for vital help with bills, even though heating would be needed at far milder temperatures.

Following Ofgem’s decision last Friday to allow energy suppliers to raise prices on default tariffs, price comparison site is calling on the government to overhaul the Cold Weather Payment scheme so it better supports those most in need during the winter.

Tom Lyon, director of energy at, said: “With last week’s energy price cap rise announcement and ever-increasing financial pressure due to the pandemic, it’s vital that government schemes are properly helping those most in need.

“High energy costs disproportionately hurt the most vulnerable, especially during the colder months. While the Cold Weather Payment scheme is designed to help, payments are being made out to less than 1% of those eligible as the current criteria doesn’t align with the normal British climate.

“By increasing the minimum temperature criteria, for example, the scheme would better reflect the nation’s actual weather, increasing the number of vulnerable people claiming support they need to stay warm. We’d strongly encourage the government to review the criteria for Cold Weather Payments as part of the wide-ranging reforms of the Energy White Paper.

Who is eligible for the Cold Weather Payment?

You may get Cold Weather Payments if you are claiming:

  • pension credit
  • income support
  • income-based jobseeker’s allowance
  • income-related employment and support allowance
  • universal credit
  • support for mortgage interest

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