Cold snap triggers £12million in gas and electricity payments from the Government

23 December 2008 / by Rachel Mason
The Government has paid out £12million to half a million people following the coldest start to winter in 30 years.

Cold weather payments are available during very cold weather to people who get pension credit or people with young children who are on Income Support or income-based Jobseeker's Allowance.

Those who qualify for cold weather payments receive £25 if the temperature is freezing or below for seven consecutive days; the payments were increased this winter from £8.50 a week to £25 for a cold weather week.

And Age Concern's policy manager, Sally West, told BBC Radio 4's Money Box programme that the newly calculated cold weather payments will actually make a difference to those struggling with their gas and electricity bills: "It will really help to give an extra boost when the weather is cold," she said.

And it is not just cold weather payments that vulnerable people are receiving this winter; every household where at least one person living there was aged 60 or over gets a winter fuel payment of £250 - or £400 if someone was aged 80 or older.

And on Tuesday, the Government ordered a special one-off payment of £60 to 15 million vulnerable people to help them through the winter and ease worries they have with their fuel bills .

"I hope this cash means that no one hesitates to turn up their heating this winter," said Pensions Minister Rosie Winterton.

"We know that older people are facing tough times and that's why we are acting now to make this real help available."

Ms Winterton said she was pleased to confirm that this year, the Government will spend approximately £900 million on the additional Christmas Bonus payments, putting an extra £60 in every pensioner's pocket.

"They will also get bigger Winter Fuel Payments," she said.

"We've seen the coldest start to winter for 30 years. I hope that this cash, alongside increased Winter Fuel and Cold Weather Payments, means that no one hesitates to turn up their heating this winter."

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