§ 24. Mr. Geraint Howells
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he is satisfied with the present form of the exceptionally severe weather payments system; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Major
Yes. The new arrangements are a significant improvement on previous schemes for exceptionally severe weather payments, in terms of simplicity, comprehensibility and certainty of payment. From 26 January we have changed the qualifying temperature from minus 1.5 deg C to 0 deg C over a fixed seven-day period. Under the revised arrangement help for vulnerable groups during exceptionally cold weather can be expected to be given more often than under any previous system. The review now provides the most generous system ever for helping vulnerable groups during exceptionally cold weather.
§ 32. Ms. Richardson
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the average time before payment of the severe weather allowance, once payment has been triggered for a given area.
§ 33. Mr. Rogers
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services in how many of the chosen weather stations the severe weather payments trigger temperature of minus 1.5 deg C was achieved in the weeks 5 to 11 January and 12 January to 18 January.