Thousands of people are eligible for help covering the cost of their energy bills this winter, with payouts of up to £300 available.
The Winter Fuel Allowance is a scheme introduced around 20 years ago in order to help vulnerable people keep warm throughout the colder months without having to choose between eating and heating.
Who qualifies for the allowance?
The Winter Fuel Allowance is available to anyone over the age of 64 who meets certain criteria. That means if you were born on or before 5 October 1954, you may qualify for the payments.
You have to have been living in the UK for at least a day during the week of 21 to 27 September 2020 - what's known as the "qualifying week."
You won't be eligible for a payout if:
- you were in prison for the entire week between 21 to 27 September 2020
- you have been getting free treatment in hospital for over a year
- you need permission to enter the UK and you can't claim public funds according to your granted leave
- you have lived in a care home for the entire period between 29 June and 27 September 2020 and got Income Support, income-based Jobseeker's Allowance, Pension Credit or income-related Employment and Support Allowance
How much is awarded?
The payments range from £100 to £300 to help you with electricity and gas as the colder months draw in.
The payment amount varies depending on your living situation and age, as well as whether you or your partner receives certain kinds of income support.
Before the money is paid into your account, you should get a letter telling you the amount you should expect to get.
How and when can I make a claim?
Usually, a Winter Fuel Payment is paid out automatically if you're eligible and get a State Pension or another social security benefit.
This doesn't include Council Tax Reduction, Child Benefit, Housing Benefit or Universal Credit.
You'll need to make a claim if you haven't made a claim before and any of the following apply to you:
- You don't get a State Pension or benefits
- You get benefits or a State Pension but live in an EEA country or Switzerland
- You only get Council Tax Reduction, Child Benefit, Housing Benefit or Universal Credit
If you are eligible and don't automatically get the payment, you'll have to make a claim. You can do this by calling 0845 915 1515 (0845 601 5613 for textphone users) or visiting www.direct.gov.uk/winterfuel.
The deadline for claiming payments for winter this year (2020) is 31 March 2021.
The period between November and December is covered by the scheme and those eligible should get their money by 14 January.
You’ll get a letter telling you how much you’ll get and an estimated payment date. Most payments are made automatically between November and December. If you receive any other benefit, you’ll get your Winter Fuel Payment at the same time as your regular payments.