Ian Weinfass, Reporter
Thursday, November 8, 2012
»As the chill-winds begin to bite, it has emerged that Havering’s postcode lottery still exists when it comes to cold weather payments.
Cllr Clarence Barrett, leader of the opposition Residents’ Association on Havering Council, has called on the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to end its “bizarre” system.
The DWP makes payments of £25 to the elderly and disabled when the average temperature is recorded as zero degrees Celsius or below for seven days in a row between November and the end of March.
But the measuring stations for residents, some just metres away from each other, are 40-miles apart.
The RM4 postcode has its temperature guaged in Andrewsfield, near Great Dunmow, Essex, while the rest of the borough has its measured at a site 40 miles away in Gravesend.
Meanwhile the rest of London, including neighbouring boroughs, are measured in Heathrow.
The Recorder first reported on the anomalies in 2010. At the time, a 19-year-old who lived in Straight Road, Harold Hill, RM3, didn’t receive payments for two weeks while her elderly parents living just metres away in Broxhill Road, RM4, did.
This week Cllr Barrett said: “This is a very helpful scheme for those in need, but there is something clearly amiss when a resident living on one side of the road is eligible to a cold weather payment while their neighbour living opposite is not.
“Having the temperature of the same road measured by weather stations 40 miles apart is simply bizarre.”
He added: “There should be some form of consistency when measuring temperatures that is equitable to all and doesn’t leave some residents out in the cold.
“Although never an exact science, it would make much more sense if the whole of Havering were measured by one weather station.”
But the DWP replied to Cllr Barrett stating that the current system will remain in place.
A spokesman told the Recorder: “To trigger the government’s Cold Weather Payment each postcode area is assigned to a weather station with the most similar climate in terms of mean winter temperature.
“This means the assigned station may not necessarily be the nearest one.
“We review the cold weather payments scheme before the start of the season, which runs from November to March, taking expert advice from the Meteorological Office and taking in to account representations from MPs and the public.”