Alistair Carmichael, MP for the Northern Isles, has challenged the Government to look again at the criteria for cold weather payments, so that it includes wind chill. Currently cold weather payments, which are made to support people on benefits including pension credit, to help them heat their homes during particularly cold spells, is only triggered when the temperature is forecast to be, or is recorded as being, zero degrees or below for seven consecutive days.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr. Carmichael said:
“Thanks to the Beast from the East a lot more people now understand that how cold you feel can have more to do with wind chill than it does with ambient temperature. Why doesn’t the government take into account wind chill when triggering cold weather payments?”
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Family Support, Housing and Child Maintenance, Kit Malthouse MP said:
“As the Rt. Hon. Gentleman knows, the triggering for cold weather payments is done on the basis of absolute temperature, and that that absolute temperature should fall below zero for an appointed time. I have to confess, as somebody who is married to a Canadian, I know only too well the effects of wind chill and the significant difference it does make. If he will allow me, I will take that issue away and have a look at it.”
Commenting after the exchange, Mr. Carmichael said:
“I have regularly raised this issue with the Department of Work and Pensions, so the commitment from the Minister to look into this issue is a welcome step forward.
“In the Northern Isles in particular, although the temperature is often not low enough to engage the cold weather payments, it feels colder than it actually is because of wind chill.
“The Minister’s response is more positive than many I have seen over the years. It remains to be seen whether this will lead to change. I will be happy to work closely with him and his officials to make the case for change.”