LETTER: In the very bleak midwinter

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From Dr Brian D. Giles

Sir: When did the Government change the cold weather requirement? You report (" `Cold comfort' payments row boils over", 28 December) social security minister Andrew Mitchell as saying, "These payments are meant to deal with very severe weather."

The original legislation was for "severe weather" and was based on a once-in-six (winters) criteria. "Very" has not been defined, and could be any large number the minister cares to think of - once in 20 or 40 or 100 winters.

Yours sincerely,

Brian D. Giles

Birmingham

28 December

The writer is a climatologist.

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