Around 380,000 people in Scotland are estimated to be in line for extra government help this year to turn up the heating during the coldest snaps, as the Cold Weather Payments season begins.
Poorer pensioners and low-income households, which include disabled people or children under the age of five, could be due a £25 Cold Weather Payment each time temperatures either dip below an average of zero degrees Celsius for seven consecutive days, or are forecast to do so.
The latest figures show that more than £700 million has been paid out across the UK to vulnerable people under this scheme since 2010 through some 28 million separate payments.
This government’s permanent increase to £25 means that an additional £466 million has been paid out – three times the amount that would have been paid if Cold Weather Payments had remained at their previous rate of £8.50.
Department for Work and Pensions Minister Steve Webb said:
It is vital that pensioners and vulnerable people are given extra help to turn up the thermostat and keep warm when temperatures plunge.
This help, combined with the Winter Fuel Allowance and Warm Home Discount Scheme, is making a real difference to help the most vulnerable people in our society.
In most cases, Cold Weather Payments are paid automatically to those eligible. But I urge anyone, especially older people who might be missing out on Pension Credit, to call us.
Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael said:
Cold weather payments are one example of the steps the UK Government is taking to make sure thousands of Scots can cope with difficult weather conditions.
From our towns and cities to the highlands and islands, by sharing of the cost of this essential scheme across the whole of UK we are providing help to those who need it most.
There are up to 1.6 million pensioners who may be entitled to Pension Credit who are not currently claiming it and who could be eligible for Cold Weather Payment as a result.
People can find out if they are due a Cold Weather Payment by calling free on 0800 991234. This number can also be used to claim Pension Credit and Housing Benefit without having to sign a form.
Facts and figures
For Winter 2013/14, an estimated 380,000 people were eligible for Cold Weather Payments in Scotland.
Around 9 million households will also receive Winter Fuel Payments to help towards the cost of their heating bills. Households with someone at State Pension age for women will receive up to £200, and households with someone aged 80 and over will receive up to £300.
More than 2 million people will receive Warm Home Discount in 2014/15. This year the discount will be £140, an increase on last year’s amount of £135