Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Cold Weather Payments - check the weather for Cardinham!

BBC Spotlight news yesterday carried a story about cold weather payments - special help for fuel bills for people receiving various income related benefits.

The decision as to whether you receive a cold weather payment depends on the weather reading at one of 85 weather stations around the UK. If you are a benefit recipient then you will automatically receive the payment (£25 a time) for each period of 7 consecutive days when the average temperature drops to freezing or below. For full details, click here.

The catch is the location of the weather stations. The Department for Work and Pensions helpfully tells me that benefits recipients in Launceston are reliant on the temperature reading in Cardinham, some 20 miles away.

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I don't want to speculate about whether the average temperature in Cardinham is warmer or colder than Launceston itself, but, according to the Government's website, there has only been one cold weather payment triggered so far this year. That means that there has been at least 7 days of freezing or below, but not more than 13 consecutive days.

Whilst the Government has increased the number of weather stations by 9 this year, it still seems that 85 is a comparatively small number for the whole of the UK - particularly given the varying geography of Cornwall. If you live in an exposed house on top of a hill - as most residents of Ridgegrove, Lanstephan and St Johns do - then the temperature is likely to be a couple of degrees colder than if you live at the bottom of a hill surrounded by trees. But no account for this is taken by the Government.

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