Cold weather payments (CWPs) have been in existence since 1991. Probably, since their introduction, there has not been such a sustained period of cold weather as we have experienced so far this winter and more of the same is forecast in some parts of the UK.
Are you entitled to receive a payment? This article sets out the rules and what you should do if you have not received your payment(s).
Who is entitled?
The CWPs are only payable if you are in receipt of certain means-tested state benefits (awarded for at least one day during the period of cold weather).
- pension credit (guarantee or savings credit); or
- income support (IS), income-based jobseeker's allowance (JSA) or income-related employment and support allowance (ESA) and one of the following applies:
- your IS or income-based JSA includes a disability, severe disability, enhanced disability, disabled child, pensioner or higher pensioner premium; or
- your income-related ESA includes the pensioner premium, severe disability premium, enhanced disability premium, or the work-related activity or support component; or
- you are responsible for a child under five; or
- you are getting child tax credit which includes a disability or severe disability element.
How do you become entitled?
Your postcode is linked to a particular weather station. If the average temperature at that weather station is, or is forecast to be, at or below freezing over 7 consecutive days then that triggers an entitlement.
There are only around 80 weather stations for the whole of the UK so the weather near you may not be representative.
How much is it worth?
A payment of £25 is made for each period of 7 days for which you are entitled between 1 November 2009 and 31 March 2010.
Do you have to claim it?
No claim is necessary as the relevant DWP computers scan their records and automatically send out payments to those who are entitled. There have been instances where this process has not worked smoothly so it is advisable to check that you have received your entitlement.
How can you check your entitlement?
You can check your entitlement by putting your postcode in a CWP checker on Directgov which will tell you how many payments you are entitled to as at the date of your enquiry. However, if you live in Northern Ireland the result will be misleading; it will tell you that you are not entitled (because it is not programmed to deal with NI postcodes). The Department of Social Development will give you accurate information.
What if you have not received your entitlement?
If you have not received the payments which the checker says you are entitled to, you should telephone your local Jobcentre Plus and ask what is happening for your area. In Northern Ireland ring either the Pensions Service (for pension credit recipients) or the local Jobs & Benefit Office.
If the checker does not show any entitlement, or less than you think is due, then probably the best course of action is to take up the issue with your local MP.
Like the winter fuel payment, remember that cold weather payments are not taxable, so if you do have to complete a tax return, do not include them with taxable state benefits.
Contact: John Andrews (0844 579 6700 Fax 0844 579 6701)