Winter Fuel Payment, and Other Heating Benefits

- by Becky Hall
A Guide to the Welfare System in the UK – Chapter 8

Did you know that if the temperature drops to below zero degrees for 7 days or more, the government might pay for your heating expenses? Read on to find out about Cold Weather Payment, Winter Fuel Payment and other types of help that are available to cover energy bills.

Winter Fuel Payment & Other Heating Benefits - Cashfloat Winter Fuel Payment & Other Heating Benefits - Cashfloat

Most people over the state pension age, in the UK, will automatically receive help to cover the cost of heating through Winter Fuel Payment. Those who are working age are entitled to help with heating costs, through Cold Weather Payment, if they already receive certain other benefits. Some pensioners will be able to claim both Cold Weather Payment and Winter Fuel Payment. On top of this, some people may be able to get support through the Warm Home Discount Scheme and grants from charitable trusts.

However, it can be difficult to know just what you are eligible for and how to make a claim. At Cashfloat, we don’t want you to lose out on money that is rightfully yours and have to take out loans with no guarantor just because you didn’t know to apply for it! In this article, we provide you with all the information you need to know about the benefits you can claim to help with heating costs.

What is Available?

The 2 main types of support available are Cold Weather Payment and Winter Fuel Payment. Generally speaking Cold Weather Payment exists to support people of working age who are in need of help and Winter Fuel Payment exists to support pensioners. However, in some cases pensioners will be able to receive Cold Weather Payment as well. On top of the main types of support that are available, people may be able to have support through the Warm Home Discount Scheme or grants provided by charitable trusts. Read on to find out more.



Cold Weather Payment

Here’s what you need to know about how Cold Weather Payment can help with heating expenses:
  • The Cold Weather Payment of £25 is paid after a 7-day period of average temperatures of zero or below. They are also paid if the weather is forecast to be below zero, on average, for 7 days.
  • It is given to people who are on certain other benefits and meet some other criteria, such as being disabled, having another family member with a disability or having a child under the age of 5 in the household.
  • Pensioners who receive Pension Credit can claim Cold Weather Payment.
  • You do not need to apply for Cold Weather Payment. Payments are made automatically by the organisation responsible for your other benefits. However, you should contact them if you did not receive it and think that you should have.

Cold Weather Payment is given if the average temperature is recorded at, or forecast to be, 0 degrees Centigrade or below for seven consecutive days. The scheme runs from 1st November to 31st March each year.

You may be eligible for Cold Weather Payment if you already receive any of these benefits:

  • Pension Credit
  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Universal Credit
  • Support for Mortgage Interest

Although Income Support, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance and Income-related Employment and Support Allowance are being replaced by Universal Credit (and people can’t apply for them any more), many people still receive these benefits, which may qualify them for Cold Weather Payment.

You are more likely to be eligible if you have a child under 5 or you or a member of your family has a disability. If you receive the benefits listed above, you will need to also meet certain other qualifying criteria in order to receive Cold Weather Payment. For a detailed explanation, look at the table below:

Qualifying BenefitOther qualifying criteria (Normally you’ll only require 1)
Pension CreditNone! Most people on Pension Credit should receive Cold Weather Payment
Income Support and Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • A disability or pensioner premium
  • A child who is disabled
  • Child Tax Credit (including the disability or severe disability element)
  • A child under 5 living with you
Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • A severe or enhanced disability premium
  • A pensioner premium
  • A child who is disabled
  • Child Tax Credit (including the disability or severe disability element)
  • A child under 5 living with you
Universal Credit
  • A health condition or disability and limited capability for work (with or without limited capability for work-related activity)
  • A child under 5 living with you
Support for Mortgage Interest None! Most people who receive support for mortgage interest should receive Cold Weather Payment

How To Claim Cold Weather Payment

You do not have to make an application for this payment. It should be paid automatically into the same bank account as you normally get your other benefits or pension within 14 days of the cold period. It is important to tell JobCentre Plus if you have recently had a baby or if a child of under five has come to live with you, or you might not receive it.

Cold Weather Payment does not affect any other benefits that you receive. If you do not receive this extra payment for heating, when you think you should have, you should notify the Pension Centre, JobCentre Plus or the providers of your other benefits.

Winter Fuel Payment

Winter Fuel Payment is a tax-free heating allowance for those who were born on or before 5th October 1954 (for the winter of 2020-21). Most people (anyone who is the recipient of a State Pension or certain other social security benefits) and is the right age will receive it automatically. Normally, it is only necessary to claim for it if you don’t get a pension or the other qualifying benefits, otherwise you will receive it automatically with your pension or other benefits.

This allowance for heating bills will be paid into your bank account between November and December each year. If you have not received it by 31st December and you think that you are eligible, then you should notify the Winter Fuel Payment Centre. Alternatively, queries can be made to the organisation responsible for your benefits.

The Winter Fuel Payment is a lump sum of £100 - £300 depending on your age and circumstances - Cashfloat The Winter Fuel Payment is a lump sum of £100 - £300 depending on your age and circumstances - Cashfloat

Eligibility and how to Claim Winter Fuel Payment

The Winter Fuel Payment scheme runs each year. To receive Winter Fuel Payment, you must have been born on or before the correct date for each year and live in the UK for at least 1 day during the ‘qualifying week’ of each year. For the winter of 2020-21, the correct birth date is 5th October 1954 and the qualifying week is 21st-27th September.

Normally, you do not have to make a claim for Winter Fuel Paymentsas it is paid into your account automatically. If you are the right age and you were a resident of the UK during the qualifying week, and you receive a state pension or any 1 of most other social security benefits, then you should receive Winter Fuel Payment automatically.

If you are the right age and you were a resident of the UK during the qualifying week, but you do not receive a state pension, or any benefits (or if the benefits you do receive are either Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction, Child Benefit or Universal Credit) or if you live in Switzerland or an EEA country then you will need to make a claim. You can make a claim, by either downloading the form online and then posting it or over the phone or by calling the Winter Fuel Payment Centre on 0800 731 0160.

If you believe that you should have received Winter Fuel Payment, but have not done so then you should contact the Winter Fuel Payment Centre.

How much will you get?

The amount that you receive depends on what your circumstances are during the qualifying week for each year. Anything that you receive is tax-free and does not affect your other benefits. People over the age of 80 receive more than people of a younger age.

Born between 28th September 1940 and 5th October 1954Born on or before 27th September 1940
You qualify and live alone (or if none of the people you live with qualify)£200£300
You qualify and live with someone under the age of 80 who also qualifies£100£200
You qualify and live with someone over the age of 80 who also qualifies£100£150
You qualify, live in a care home and do not get certain benefits£100£150

The Warm Home Discount Scheme

The Warm Home Discount Scheme is a one-off payment of £140 given between October and April each year, normally to go towards the payment of a household’s electricity bill.

Eligibility & Claiming for the Warm Home Scheme

To be eligible for this scheme, your electricity supplier must be taking part in the scheme, and you should be receiving either the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit or be on a low income. A large number of suppliers, including British Gas, EDF Energy, E. ON, npower, Scottish Power and SSE now take part in the scheme. If you receive the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit and you qualify for the scheme, you will receive a letter (between October and December) telling you how to get the discount. Normally, this will be a case of calling a helpline to confirm your details. Discounts are usually given to accounts by March the following year.

If you are on a low income or you get certain means tested benefits, then you may also be eligible. Normally, individual energy suppliers decide who is able to receive a discount. If you believe you may be entitled to a discount, then you should contact your energy supplier.

Grants for Paying Off Energy Debts

Some energy companies have created charitable trusts to help their customers if they get into debt with them. On top of this, British Gas have created a charitable trust (the British Gas Energy Trust), which is open to customers of other energy suppliers as well as their own. If you are in debt to your energy supplier, you can apply to either the British Gas Energy Trust or one set up by another energy supplier for a grant to cover some of what you owe.

FAQs about Benefits For Heating Costs

Is the Cold Weather Payment affected by the ‘benefit cap’?
No, it is a separate, sometimes one-off, payment which does not affect your other benefits at all.

Do I have to get a state pension to qualify for Winter Fuel Payment?
No. You can claim Winter Fuel Payment if you do not get a pension or benefits. You can even receive the payment if you live in Switzerland or an EEA country. If you are the right age and you were a resident of the UK during the qualifying week each year, then you are eligible for this benefit.

Can I receive the Warm Home Discount if I use pre-pay electricity?
You could qualify for the Warm Home Discount if you use pre-pay or a pay-as-you-go electricity meter. You should contact your electricity supplier who will give you a ‘top-up’ voucher or an alternative payment method. Keep in mind that prepaid meters are a great way of avoiding expensive short term loans if you are having difficulty keeping on top of your energy bills.



Conclusion of Benefits and Other Help for Heating Costs

In this article we explained the benefits and other help which is available to help you pay for heating and energy bills. This includes Cold Weather Payment, Winter Fuel Payment, the Warm Home Discount Scheme and grants from charitable trusts. You should never have to take out a payday loan to pay for your heating expenses, if you can receive benefits to pay for it instead. Of course, applying for a loan online might seem like a faster and easier option. But, it is far more expensive. Therefore, in the long run it is better to put in the effort and make sure you are getting all the benefits that you are eligible for.




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About The Author
Becky Hall
Becky never thought she would be a financial blogger. But Fate arranged that Becky had to put her accounting degree on the back burner right after she graduated with a first in Business and Accounting. While doing bookkeeping as a freelancer for private clients, Becky noticed how many cashflow problems can be solved with a little bit of education. Trying to keep her clients out of debt, Becky began writing resources which she distributed to clients. What began as writing advice for clients evolved into a passion and now Becky found her platform at Cashfloat. When she isn’t writing, calculating or budgeting, Becky can be found at her piano playing something classical.
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