It’s Freezing in the U.K. For Some Citizens, That Means a Cold Weather ‘Bonus’

February 1, 2019, 11:17 AM UTC

While the U.S. is freezing its Midwest off, the United Kingdom has been dealing with its own low temperatures this week. Thursday night’s low temperature of -15.4C (4F) was the coldest recorded since 2012.

But some U.K. residents can look forward to a little extra money because of the harsh winter, in the form of so-called Cold Weather Payments. Any time the average temperature remains at or below 0C (32F) for a week between Nov. 1 and March 31, a payment of £25 ($33) is automatically deposited in the accounts of people who receive certain social welfare benefits, including pensions, disability payments and job-seeking assistance.

The Cold Weather Payments system, available to residents of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, was introduced in 1986. In 2008, the cold weather payouts were raised from £7.50 per week to £25 to help ameliorate the effects of the Great Recession. The cold weather payments are separate from—but meant to bolster—winter energy assistance, which are paid out in a lump sum per season to qualifying residents. Those qualifying residents also receive a Christmas bonus of £10 each year — historically meant to cover the cost of a turkey dinner.

Scotland, Wales, Southern England and areas west of London are expected to get up to another 2 to 4 inches of snow on Friday, and temperatures across the island will remain low through the weekend.