Nick Smith MP Labour MP for Blaenau Gwent
Nick Smith MP demanded Ministers give more support to old people struggling with their fuel bills as falling temperatures trigger cold weather payments in Blaenau Gwent. In the House of Commons Nick Smith MP revealed that 5,686 people over 75s in Blaenau Gwent would be up to £200 better off if the government adopted Labour’s energy policy. The Cold Weather Payment was triggered on Monday the 14th, as temperatures fell at the local weather station.
At Welsh Questions on Wednesday the 16th of January, Nick Smith MP asked:
“More than 5,000 people in Blaenau Gwent would be up to £200 better off if the Government adopted Labour’s plan to force energy companies to put the over-75s on to their cheapest tariff. We have heard the Minister’s warm words, but why are the Government not doing much more to help people with their bills?”
Labour’s policy would require energy companies to put all over-75s on their cheapest tariff, which could save as many as four million pensioners across the country as much as £200 a year from their annual energy bills. Labour is prepared to stand up to powerful vested interests in the energy industry, creating genuine competition and effective regulation of prices. The plans would provide real help now, as well as reform the way our energy market works for the long-term.
Nick Smith MP said: “Parts of Blaenau Gwent are 1200 feet above sea level and our winters can be bitter. As freezing temperatures sweep across the constituency too many older people are cold in their homes because they cannot afford to turn on their heating. Ministers use warm words but they are giving vulnerable pensioners the cold shoulder.”
Cold Weather Payments are made from the Social Fund to certain recipients of Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance or Pension Credit during periods of very cold weather. To ‘trigger’ the payments, the average temperature at a specified weather station must be recorded as, or forecast to be, 0°C or below for seven consecutive days. The scheme runs from 1 November to 31 March each winter.
The payment is a fixed amount for each week of cold weather. For many years this was set at £8.50 a week but the Labour Government increased the rate to £25 a week. Payments are made automatically so there should be no need to claim. However, if you believe you are entitled to the payment contact job Centre Plus on 0800 055 6688.