The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is reminding households across the country that if they are receiving certain benefits they may be eligible for extra money to help keep their homes warm during the colder months until the end of March.
You may be eligible for a Cold Weather Payment, Warm Home Discount or a Winter Fuel Payment. So far this winter, 13,000 Cold Weather Payments have been triggered in 25 postcode areas by freezing temperature across Scotland.
These are an automatic top-up of £25 triggered to eligible households when the average temperature has been recorded as, or is forecast to be, zero degrees Celsius or below over seven consecutive days at any of the 27 weather stations across Scotland.
The UK Government paid out almost £100 million in Cold Weather Payments last winter between November 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021, including 854,000 to households across Scotland totaling more than £21 million.
The 25 postcodes that have triggered Cold Weather Payments so far this winter are:
- IV 15
Commenting on the scheme, DWP Lords Minister Baroness Stedman-Scott said: “These additional payments provide support every year to help people experiencing the coldest weather, without anyone needing to lift a finger.
“Cold Weather Payments can be triggered right through to the end of March, giving people facing disproportionately cold weather that extra reassurance over the chillier months.”
What is the Cold Weather Payment?
People on a low income and in receipt of certain benefits can claim the £25 Cold Weather Payment to help with heating costs when the temperature is recorded as, or forecast to be, colder than zero degrees Celsius across seven consecutive days.
You’ll get £25 for each seven-day period of very cold weather from now until March 31, 2021.
After each period of very cold weather in your area, you should get a payment within 14 working days. It’s paid into the same bank or building society account as your benefit payments.
It’s also worth noting that Cold Weather Payments do not affect your other benefits.
Who is eligible for Cold Weather Payments?
You may be eligible for Cold Weather Payments if you’re getting:
Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
Support for Mortgage Interest
You can read the full details for eligibility for each of these on the GOV.UK website here.
How to claim Cold Weather Payments
You do not need to apply. If you’re eligible to get a Cold Weather Payment, you’ll be paid automatically.
Find out more about Cold Weather Payments on the GOV.UK website here.
Other help available with rising energy bills
Winter Fuel Payment
If you were born on or before September 26, 1955 you could get between £100 and £300 to help you pay your heating bills – this is known as a ‘Winter Fuel Payment’.
You do not need to claim it and the Winter Fuel Payment will be made automatically to your supplier if you are eligible.
You will automatically receive the support if you:
- Receive State Pension
- Get another social security benefit – not Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction, Child Benefit or Universal Credit
If you do not get either of these, or if you live abroad, you may need to make a claim.
If you have received a Winter Fuel Payment before, you do not need to claim again unless you’ve deferred your State Pension or moved abroad.
Eligibility for Winter Fuel Payment
You qualify for a Winter Fuel Payment if both the following apply:
- You were born on or before September 26, 1955
- You lived in the UK for at least one day during the week of 20 to 26 September 2021 – this is called the ‘qualifying week’
The deadline for you to make a claim for winter 2021 to 2022 is March 31, 2022.
How much you will get
How much you get depends on your circumstances during the qualifying week. Any money you get is tax-free and will not affect your other benefits.
You can find out how much you will receive on the dedicated GOV.UK pages here.
When you will get paid
Most payments are made automatically in November or December and should have been paid by January 14.
All payments are paid into the account where your benefits are usually made.
If the money has not been paid into your account already, contact the Winter Fuel Payment Center here.
How to make a claim
If you have not received a Winter Fuel Payment before, you only need to claim if any of the following apply:
- You do not get benefits or a State Pension
- You only get Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction, Child Benefit or Universal Credit
- You get benefits or a State Pension but live in Switzerland or an EEA country
If you have got a Winter Fuel Payment before, you only need to claim if since your last payment you have either:
- Deferred your State Pension
- Moved to Switzerland or an EEA country
Who does not qualify?
You will not qualify for the Winter Fuel Payment if you:
- Are in hospital getting free treatment for more than a year
- Need permission to enter the UK and your granted leave states that you cannot claim public funds
- We were in prison for the whole week from 20 to 26 September 2021
- Lived in a care home for the whole time from 28 June to 26 September 2021, and got Pension Credit, Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) or income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
Warm Home Discount
You could get £140 off your electricity bill for winter 2021 to 2022 under the Warm Home Discount Scheme which opened in October.
The money is not paid to you – it’s a one-off discount on your electricity bill, between October and March, 2022.
You may be able to get the discount on your gas bill instead if your supplier provides you with both gas and electricity – contact your supplier to find out.
The discount will not affect your Cold Weather Payment or Winter Fuel Payment.
Am I eligible?
There are two ways to qualify for the Warm Home Discount Scheme:
How you apply for the Warm Home Discount Scheme depends on how you qualify for the discount.
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Pre-pay or pay-as-you-go meters
You can still qualify for the discount if you use a pre-pay or pay-as-you-go electricity meter.
Your electricity supplier can tell you how you will get the discount if you’re eligible, for example it may be a voucher you can use to top up your meter.
how to apply
Your electricity supplier decides who can get the discount.
The number of discount suppliers can give is limited. Check with your supplier as early as possible to see if you’re eligible and how to apply – check with them even if you were eligible for a discount last year.
Your electricity supplier will apply the discount to your bill by March 31, 2022.
For the full list of participating energy suppliers, visit the dedicated page on the GOV.UK website here.
This page also has details on what will happen if you qualify but your energy supplier is no longer trading.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.