Some people on low incomes will receive a £25 cold weather payment after the Met Office warned of overnight temperatures as low as -10C by the end of the week.
The payments were activated for eligible households where the average temperature has been, or is forecast to be, 0C or below over a period of seven consecutive days.
They have been “triggered” for residents in over 300 postcode areas in England and Wales, said MoneySavingExpert – the first time the payments, which are “designed to help households pay for energy bills when temperatures plummet”, have been handed out this winter.
The UK Health Security Agency said vulnerable people should heat their homes to at least 18C, wear extra layers of clothing, and eat hot food to protect themselves.
However, said Sky News, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation “found that around 710,000 households cannot afford to follow this advice because they cannot pay for warm clothing, heating and food”. And, the charity said, another 2.5 million families on low incomes are going without.
Eligibility for the cold weather payment is limited to those who already receive either pension credit, income support, income-based jobseeker’s allowance, income-related employment and support allowance, or universal credit.
Those eligible should be paid automatically and you can use the government’s postcode checker to see if the cold weather payment has been triggered in your area.
For those in Scotland, the cold weather payment has now been replaced by the winter heating payment. Instead of a payment based on weather conditions, all eligible households will get a flat annual fee to help with heating bills.
The “devolved benefit” will give around 400,000 households on a low income a guaranteed £50 payment towards their energy bills, said the Daily Record, but some will have to wait until February 2023 for the one-off payment.