Big freeze triggers cold weather payments totalling £50m

Last week's cold snap triggered an estimated £50 million of cold weather payments - the highest figure of the winter.

Nearly two million people across Britain were eligible for the money in the seven days to March 2, new figures show.

Some £7.2 million alone went to residents in the area covered by the Coleshill weather station, which includes Birmingham, Coventry and Dudley.

A further £4.3 million was triggered for people in Doncaster and Sheffield, while £2.7 million went to residents covered by the Gravesend weather station, including Dartford, Romford and Southend-on-Sea.

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In total, £90.7 million is estimated to have been paid out across Great Britain since the 2017/18 scheme began, according to the Department for Work and Pensions.

This is well above the amount for 2016/17 (£3.1 million) and 2015/16 (£3.9 million), but still 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.

The money is paid to the recipient within 14 days.

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