As colder weather approaches, you might be thinking about the cost off heating your home. If you are on a low income, you could be eligible for financial help with fuel costs and some of the help is automatically applied to you. How do I know what I am entitled to and what to apply for? Read on to find out more about what is on offer.
Winter Fuel Payment
Winter Fuel Payment is a one-off, tax-free payment made during the winter to help with heating costs. It is made to households that include someone over state pension age receiving State Pension, Pension Credit, or certain other means-tested benefits. Most payments, between £100 and £300, are made automatically during November and December.
Application is only necessary if you are over state pension age and did not receive a Winter Fuel Payment last year. To find out if you need to apply contact: Winter Fuel Payment helpline: Telephone: 0800 731 160
Cold Weather Payment
If the temperature drops below 0 degrees Celsius for 7 consecutive days (or is forecast to do so) between 1 November and 31 March during any winter, the cold weather payment will be paid automatically if your household meets the conditions. Payment is £25 for each 7 day period in which the outdoor temperature falls below 0 degrees.
You will receive the cold weather payment if:
- you are receiving Pension Credit, unless you live in a care home.
- you are of working age, and in receipt of: Income Support, Income-related ESA, Income-based JSA or Universal Credit which includes a disability element for you or one of your children.
- you are claiming benefits and have a child under 5, or you get Child Tax Credit with a disabled child element.
Warm Home Discount Scheme
This one depends on whether your energy supplier is part of the scheme. If they are and you are receiving Pension Credit Guarantee, you should get a letter between October and December telling you how to apply. The discount of £140 will be applied directly to your bill.
If you are working age, there are a limited number of Warm Home Discounts that can be given if you are on a low income and on certain means-tested benefits. Check with your supplier to see if you’re eligible. You can still qualify for the discount if you use a pre-pay or pay-as-you-go electricity meter.
In debt to your energy supplier?
There are grants available to the customers of many energy suppliers to help pay off a fuel bill debt. You should enquire direct to your energy supplier to find out about the support available. British Gas Energy Trust offers such grants to people who are not even their customers. The grant application process can be quite involved, such as completing a financial conduct authority form giving details of your expenses and income.
You may be able to save money by switching supplier, although many companies are financially struggling at the moment, so there are fewer deals available. For switching guidance read more on the Citizens Advice website.