This is a continuation of my last week’s blog on welfare benefits. ( You can see all the posts on this subject by clicking on “Welfare Benefits “ in the Tag Cloud )
There seem to be quite a few weather related benefits, but all have a lot of weather conditions attached to them. So here is what I have found out so far:-
- Cold Weather Payments —— First introduced in 1986, this is worth £25 for each cold period, but only if temperatures fall below zero degrees for 7 days in succession and only for periods between 1st November and 31st March. So for six days you had better wrap up warm. It is assessed on average temperatures at 93 weather stations around the UK. If you put your post code into the Department of Work and Pensions website you can check. I did and it said “ No luck so far “. Then I tried Liverpool but got the same disappointing result. So I tried Aviemore in Scotland and this time it said “invalid”. I suppose the Scots are used to the cold.
I then thought I would find out how much has been paid out in total. I found a helpful looking UK Statistics Authority website and Assessment 319, which in a 9 page letter basically said we don’t keep the data weekly on how much it costs, nor is it kept by local areas and anyway it would be too expensive to collect …… and we are very busy …. and we don’t have the resources. So go away. So it wasn’t so helpful after all.
The good news is that if you are eligible, which means you have to qualify for means tested benefits, (Pension Credit, Income Support, Universal Credit), they will send it to you automatically. Unless you are in hospital at the time. In other words trust me and we will let you know.
- Winter Fuel Allowance —— this benefit was first introduced by Gordon Brown in the 1997 Labour Government. It is not means tested for pensioners so even millionaires can claim it, even those who live in Switzerland, where it can get very cold in winter. Sadly, you can’t get it on the Costa Del Sol or other parts of Spain, because it is just too hot and shady out there. Once offered, successive Governments have not found away of taking it back, although they have tried. It is slowly reducing as State Pension Age is increasing. It is between £100 and £300 a year, so it is worth having, although it hasn’t been increased in value ever since it was introduced, which tells you something. Oh and you don’t get it if your in hospital, because it is always too hot in hospitals. Nor do you get it if your in prison, because they just don’t deserve it.
- Warm Home Discount Scheme —— also helpfully referred to as Affordable Warmth Grant —— this provides up to £140 annually off your electricity bills providing you qualify for means tested benefits ( Pension Credit, Income Support, Universal Credit). You have to tell your energy supplier and they knock it off your bill. It should happen automatically. So it is another ‘ trust me ‘ type grant. I wonder how well this works?
No wonder older people talk about the weather all the time!
FOOTNOTE – Please note, I hasten to add that I am no expert and anyone reading this should not take my observations or figures as fact. Hopefully before I finish this series of blogs, I will have raised awareness of some of the issues in the welfare benefits system. If you’re intending to make a claim, you should go to one of the trusted agencies like Age UK or Citizens Advice Bureau.