My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Helen Goodman) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
I am pleased to announce that, following advice from the Meteorological Office, the annual review of the cold weather payments scheme has now been completed. Amending regulations were laid on 5 October and will come into force on 1 November 2009, in time for the beginning of the winter period.
For winter 2009-10 nine new weather stations will be included as part of the scheme. Consequently, some postcodes from existing weather stations for winter 2008-09 will be redistributed and assigned to the following weather stations: Fylingdales, Gravesend, Leek, Little Rissington, North Wyke, Sheffield, St Bees Head, Stonyhurst, and Strathallan.
The alternative weather stations have been chosen to provide weather station-to-postcode linkages that are at least as representative as the previous arrangements—the changes are expected to have either a neutral effect or indeed provide a more accurate assessment for those eligible.
I am writing separately to each Member whose constituency will be affected by these changes. I am also writing to each Member who made representations last winter to inform them of the advice from the Meteorological Office.
The amending regulations also provide for the rate of a cold weather payment to remain at £25 for winter of 2009-10.
Cold weather payments are separate from, and in addition to, winter fuel payments which are paid to eligible people from age 60.