In the wake of the recent bitter weather, emergency ‘cold weather payments’ have become due to thousands of low-income households across the UK – a £25 cash payment to help hard-pressed claimants keep their homes warm and their electricity running.
DWP (Dept of Work and Pensions) insiders have told the SKWAWKBOX that the DWP changed its policy this week to slow down the payment process – switching from same-day payments to the ‘direct payment’ process that can take up to three working days – i.e. up to five days if a weekend intervenes – to arrive.
As many low-income households are forced to obtain their energy through pre-payment meters and many will have run their balance down to nothing during the extreme weather, this risks thousands of families being forced to wait in cold homes, unable even to warm a meal.
According DWP sources, this change has affected 16,000 claimants on Universal Credit alone – plus many more on other forms of support. The change has been made to reduce the cost of the payments.
The DWP denied that there had been a change of policy. A spokesperson said:
There has been no change to the policy of paying Cold Weather Payments and eligible claimants should receive it within 14 working days, as has always been the case. This winter we have already paid an estimated £90 million in Cold Weather Payments to almost 3 million people.
However, the DWP also confirmed that the CWP payment process had been ‘corrected’ so that payments to claimants on Universal Credit Full Service ‘match other benefits’.
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