Extreme temperatures unleashes Cold Weather Payment help
The recent cold snap and multiple storms have resulted in the Cold Weather Payment being activated once more. Who gets to benefit from this scheme though and what temperatures trigger this welcome support? Selectra investigates the pros and cons of the Cold Weather Payment checker system and whether this is just a postcode lottery.
Is this really enough to counteract the extreme weather that we’ve been experiencing? If you live in an area that is suffering from arctic temperatures, will the Cold Weather Payment reach you and your family? We will discuss this and give you tips on how to find the best energy supplier to keep you toasty, without paying through the roof, whether you can get the Cold Weather Payment or not.
Is a £25 Cold Weather Payment enough?
The Cold Weather Payment doles out a set £25 no matter how large the family or house.
This means that a family of eight receives the same as a family of three. Furthermore, these payments are only triggered when there’s an extreme cold snap. This figure is per week that the following conditions apply.
The Cold Weather Payment season runs from 1 November to 31 March each year. In order for payments to hit an area the average temperature has to be recorded as, or forecast to be, zero degrees celsius or below for seven days in a row.
An average of zero degrees celsius is actually quite difficult to reach and is a true cold snap. Generally speaking, the greater the temperature difference between the outside and the inside, the more it will cost to keep yourselves warm.
This is especially true where many areas experience long, harsh winters. While the snow sure is beautiful, it also means your energy bills are guaranteed to rise. This can be prohibitive for vulnerable households who want to keep their home at a decent temperature.
For every degree that you turn down your thermostat, you can save energy costs. However, it’s just not feasible to turn it all the way down in the dead of winter. Maintaining a reasonable temperature is essential for the health of you and your family.
The cost of extreme weather is huge in Britain. It’s not just the cold temperatures we have to battle against:
- Heavy snow - If you have too much snow on your roof, it can weaken, leak or collapse. If your area is prone to heavy bouts of snow you should have it inspected and maintained before winter comes.
- Heavy rains - This can lead to floods, which we have seen countless times this winter all ready. Not only devastating for homes but also very dangerous, with numerous lives lost in the recent storms that hit Britain.
- Strong winds - Can cause tree limbs or debris to fall onto structures such as houses and utility lines. If something falls on your house, it would not be cheap to repair the damage. Plus, you’d likely need to live somewhere else while the hole was being covered.
- Climate change - The EU has declared it an emergency. Scientists now believe that the rising sea levels are contributing to higher storm surges and floods.
Given all this, is £25 enough to offset these acts of nature that often come with a cold snap? These events can leave families out of pocket for more than just your average heating bill. Bills can run into the tens of thousands, crippling already struggling families and those who are most vulnerable.
Cold Weather Payment postcode checker
The Cold Weather Payment postcode checker is linked to just 95 weather stations across the UK. This has drawn plenty of criticism around accuracy and which weather station a postcode is associated with.
For example, someone complained that even though they live in the mountains, their closest weather station is 20 miles away on the coast. Since it is warmer there, it means they don’t get the payout. This isn’t an isolated incident either and there has been a lot of controversy around how the postcode checker functions.
As we mentioned earlier, it’s quite difficult to reach an average as low as zero degrees celsius for seven consecutive days. Between 1 November 2019 and 21 February 2020 there have been just five triggers.
Everyone is affected by extreme weather in Britain. This year has been particularly harsh and we are only a few months into the year.
- Storm Ciara - Meant engineers were working 17-hour shifts in the wind and torrential rain trying to restore cables etc so people had power.
- Storm Dennis - Wreaked havoc across Britain just days after Storm Ciara blew through. Obliterated energy and broadband infrastructure as well as homes across the nation.
The Cold Weather Payment is not open to everyone. There are certain criteria you need to meet. Check out our in-depth guides on energy benefit schemes, including the Cold Weather Payment, to see which ones you are eligible for.
As you can see, getting the Cold Weather Payment is not the easiest thing in the world. It could be likened to winning the weather tower postcode lottery. For many that receive it, the help is essential and we hope it manages to reach as many as possible this year.
Please note that the Cold Weather Payment is different from the Winter Fuel Payment scheme. The latter is to help elderly people pay their heating bills, regardless of weather conditions. Hence, there is a different set of eligibility criteria you need to meet in order to receive this benefit.
Usually, you will get this benefit automatically. However, if you don’t, you can apply through the government. The deadline for submitting a claim for this winter is 31 March 2020.