Plunging temperatures trigger £3million cold weather payments in North East

Picture by Danny Lawson/PA Wire
Picture by Danny Lawson/PA Wire
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The bitter weather earlier this month triggered the biggest spending on cold weather payments for five years.

Some £18million is estimated to have been paid out by the Government so far this month.

About £3million was spent on 134,000 individuals in the area covered by the Albemarle weather station, which includes the cities of Sunderland, Newcastle and Durham and the surrounding areas.

A total of £8million has gone to individuals in England, £8.4million went to people in chilly Scotland, and while £1.6 million has been paid out in Wales.

The total for the whole of Britain is already more than double the amount paid in 2016/17 (£3.1 million) and 2015/16 (£3.9 million).

But the figure is still well below the £141.7 million paid in 2012/13.

The Government's cold weather payment scheme runs each year from November 1 to March 31.

Payments are triggered by data collected by the Met Office from 94 weather stations around Britain.

A sum of £25 is automatically paid to eligible people in every area where a weather station shows the average temperature has dropped, or is forecast to drop, to zero degrees Celsius or below for seven days in a row.

Many parts of the country have seen temperatures regularly fall below freezing this month.

The night of December 11/12 was the coldest of the year so far, with minus 9.1C (15.6F) recorded in Drumnadrochit in the Scottish Highlands, minus 10.1C (13.8F) in Llysdinam in Powys, and minus 13C (8.6F) in Shawbury in Shropshire.

Today's figures, published by the Department for Work and Pensions, show that so far this month £3.4 million is estimated to have been spent on cold weather payments to 138,000 people covered by the Bishopton weather station in Scotland, which includes the cities of Glasgow and Paisley.

Under the scheme, payments go to older people in receipt of Pension Credit, along with disabled adults, families with a disabled child or families with a child under five who are in receipt of one of the following benefits: income-based Jobseeker's Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support or Universal Credit.

The money is paid to the recipient within 14 days.