Wintery Conditions Trigger More Payments

There is to be a second round of Cold Weather Payments following a forecast for extremely low temperatures.

The Department for Social Development has revealed it is to make the fuel payments for the second time in a week.

The news comes today with warnings of no let-up in the biting cold weather.

The Met Office has said that plummeting temperatures will be the theme of the coming week as it also emerged that last month was the coldest December in Northern Ireland since 1981.

The heavy snows which gave NI a white pre-Christmas are not expected to return, but some light sleet and snow showers are expected towards the north coast were likely to edge south later today.

The Met Office said there would be "no let-up" in the wintry period between tomorrow and Thursday, with daytime temperatures of around three degrees. Bright spells will be mixed with scattered snow showers and severe frosts inland.

The official Cold Weather Payment is now available to low income homes having been triggered when the temperature was actually or was forecast to be zero degrees Celsius or below for a period of seven consecutive days.
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The latest Cold Weather Payment followed information supplied by the Met Office from its Aldergrove, Ballykelly, Castlederg, Katesbridge, and Enniskillen weather stations, forecasting sub-zero temperatures over a seven-day period from 29 December 2009 to 4 January 2010 across the whole of Northern Ireland.

NI Minister for Social Development, Margaret Ritchie, welcomed the additional help today and said: "This additional £25 payment will be paid automatically by the Social Security Agency to qualifying groups.

"This is the second Cold Weather Payment to be issued and means that around 166,000 people on low incomes will have received a total of £50 to help them with their heating costs during this current cold spell."

Just last week, Margaret Ritchie commented: "I am glad that we have been able to make this help available to those who need it most during this very cold spell.

"This £25 payment will be additional to those other fuel payments people receive. It will be paid automatically to approximately 166,000 qualifying households by the Social Security Agency across Northern Ireland."

The original Cold Weather Payments began being issued from 28 December and were sent by direct payment to customer accounts or by cheque in the post, with the second payments going out from today.


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