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Cold Weather Payments Scheme 2015-16

Volume 599: debated on Monday 14 September 2015

My noble Friend The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Baroness Altmann) has made the following written statement.

I am pleased to announce that the Department for Work and Pensions intends to lay amendments to the cold weather payment scheme regulations by the end of September 2015. The changes detailed in these regulations will come into force on 1 November this year, in time for the beginning of the winter period.

This year the Met Office has recommended the replacement of two primary weather stations.

First, Tibenham airfield is proposed as a replacement for Norwich airport which is likely to have reduced availability. Tibenham airfield is a similarly representative station for the region and therefore a suitable replacement for Norwich airport both geographically and climatologically. As a direct weather station replacement all postcodes currently linked to Norwich airport will be moved to Tibenham.

Secondly, Llysdinam is proposed as a more suitable station for those areas currently covered by Sennybridge. Llysdinam is geographically and climatologically closer to the main populated areas of the region in and around Llandrindod Wells and Builth Wells. As a direct weather station replacement all the current postcode links will be transferred to this new station.

The regulations also make other minor changes to the alternative weather stations. This will ensure that the weather stations to postcode links are as representative as possible.

I will be writing to each Member whose constituency will be affected by the changes in the scheme, to make them aware of the advice from the Met Office.

Cold weather payments are separate from, and in addition to, winter fuel payments.

The amendments resulted from the Department’s annual review of the cold weather payments scheme. The review drew on expert advice from the Met Office and took account of representations from benefit claimants and Members of Parliament.

For winter 2015-16 the cold weather payment rate will continue to be £25 for each seven day period of very cold weather.