HC Deb 16 December 1999 vol 341 cc266-8W
Mr. David Stewart

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what estimate he has made of the(a) number of claimants and (b) cost of cold weather payments in the (i) Inverness, East, Nairn and Lochaber and (ii) Ross, Skye and Inverness, West constituencies in (1) 1997, (2) 1998, (3) 1999 and (4) 2000. [101960]

Angela Eagle

The administration of the Social Fund is a matter for Peter Mathison the Chief Executive of the Benefits Agency. He will write to my hon. Friend.

Letter from Peter Mathison to Mr. David Stewart, dated 15 December 1999: The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about what estimate had been made of (A) the number of claimants and (B) the cost of cold weather payments in the (i) Inverness East, Nairn and Lochaber and (ii) Ross, Skye and Inverness west constituencies in (1) 1997, (2) 1998, (3) 1999 and (4) 2000. As you may be aware, Cold Weather Payments (CWPs) are triggered if the temperature has been recorded as an average of 0?C or below over any seven consecutive days, or, a forecast shows the temperature is likely to average 0?C or below over the next seven days, for a weather station area. Temperature information is collected through a network of 72 weather stations. Each weather station covers specified postcode districts. No separate claim is

Number of qualifying recipients by weather station and estimated cost by constituency
1996–97 1997–98 1998–99
Triggers Estimated recipients B Triggers Estimated recipients Triggers Estimated recipients
Weather station
Aulbea 0 238 0 349 0 317
Loch Glascarnoch 5 1,880 3 1,904 2 1,928
Lusa 0 499
Waterstein Head 0 519
Tiree 0 751 0 140 0 152
Wick 2 1,981 1 1,977 0 1,939
Tulloch Bridge 4 1,935 0 11,935 2 11,935
Kinloss 3 8,147 0 8,372 0 8,027
Estimated cost
Ross, Skye and Inverness, West (£) 96,180 24,080 18,544
Inverness, East, Nairn and Lochaber (£) 84,107 12,217
1These figures for Tulloch Bridge are extrapolations from 1996–97, not true estimates.


  1. 1. Kinloss and Tulloch Bridge stations serve both constituencies. The other six stations do not serve Inverness, East, Nairn and Lochaber. Each station also serves areas outside these two constituencies. The total estimated recipients for all the weather stations is therefore substantially higher than the total of estimated recipients in the two constituencies. The calculation of the estimated cost takes this into account.
  2. 2. The figures in the table represent an estimate of the actual total cost per constituency. The cost of triggers at Kinloss and Tulloch Bridge has been split equally between the two constituencies.
  3. 3. The estimated cost has been calculated by multiplying the number of triggers (A) by the number of estimated recipients served by each station (B) by the cost per CWP (£8.50), then multiplied by the number of total qualifying individuals in each constituency (C) (from the following table) divided by the total estimated recipients served by all relevant stations for each constituency.
  4. 4. Waterstein Head station did not exist in 1996–97. Its catchment was drawn from Tiree for 1997–98. It was then replaced by another new station, Lusa, in 1998–99.
  5. 5. It is not possible to estimate the cost or number of payments for a future period for the year 2000 as CWPs are dependent on prevailing weather conditions and the caseload at the time.

Estimated number of qualifying individuals August 1997 to August 1999 by parliamentary constituency area
C 1997 C 1998 C 1999
Inverness, East, Nairn and Lochaber 3,100 3,300 3,400
Ross, Skye and Inverness, West 3,800 3,700 3,700


  1. 1. Figures are based on a 5 per cent. sample of the Income Support caseload and figures are rounded to the nearest hundred.
  2. 2. Some income-based Jobseeker's Allowance recipients may qualify, but the numbers are estimated to be negligible so have not been included in the estimates of qualifying individuals.
  3. 3. Estimates are based on a sample of cases, and are subject to a degree of sampling error and therefore provide only a guide to the situation.
  4. 4. Cases are allocated to each parliamentary constituency by matching the postcode against the 1999 version 1 of the Postcode Directory and as such represent constituency boundaries as at 1 May 1997.


There have been significant changes in the postcode districts linked to weather station areas over the period in question. Of particular interest in respect of the Inverness area was the transfer of postcodes IV 47–49, 51, 55 and 56 from the station at Tiree to the new station at Waterstein Head in 1997; the replacement of the station at Waterstein Head by that at Lusa in 1998, and, most significantly and recently, the transfer of postcode district IV3 from necessary and the payment process can start without awaiting actual recorded temperatures. Payments are not recalled if a forecast is not confirmed by recorded data.

The attached tables detail the estimated cost and numbers of potential recipients in each constituency for 97, 98/99.

I hope this is helpful. Copies of this letter will be placed in the library.

the station at Loch Glascarnoch to the station at Kinloss in 1999. Unfortunately a printing error resulted in the IV3 postcode being omitted from the current print of the cold weather payment handbook. The relevant district has been informed and an appropriate amendment will be made at the next review.