When it comes to cold weather, older people in society are hit the hardest. If you are older, perhaps retired, you will often spend much more time indoors during a cold spell of winter. This means that not only are you not working anymore but actually paying more on your energy bills than you would be if you were out of the house during the day. In order to combat this, the government introduced a scheme which gives older members of society a certain amount of money to help with energy bills depending on their age, financial situation, and who they live with. Our guide will take you through everything you need to know about the Winter Fuel Payment, how to claim it, and how you can save elsewhere on your energy bills.
What is the Winter Fuel Payment?
The Winter Fuel Allowance is a tax-free scheme employed by the UK government to help older people pay for their energy bills in the winter. Currently, if you were born on or before 5 April 1954 then you qualify for the winter fuel payment. It will range between £100 - £300 per person per year, depending on your specific financial situation, your age, and who you live with.
Do I qualify for the Winter Fuel Payment?
You must be of the right age and have lived in the UK for more than a year in order to qualify for the Winter Fuel Payment. Apart from this, there are a few other instances where you may be disqualified, such as if:
- You were in prison during the qualifying week, which is normally in September.
- You are in hospital receiving treatment for more than a year.
- Entering the UK on the requirement that you cannot claim public funds.
- Lived in a care home in June and September and received benefits such as Pension Credit, Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or Income-related Employment and Support Allowance.
How much Winter Fuel Payment will I receive?
This will depend on your specific financial situation, who you live with, and your age. For instance if:
- You live by yourself, or all other members of your household are ineligible: You will receive £300 if you are over 80 or £200 if you are younger than 80.
- Live with another qualifying person the winter fuel payments will usually be split between the two of you. Meaning you will get £150 each if you are above 80.
- Live in a care home where you do not receive certain benefits already you will receive either £150 or £100 depending on how old you are.
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How do I claim the Winter Fuel Payment?
You will need to go onto the Government’s website, GOV.UK, in order to make a claim for winter fuel payment or if your circumstances have changed. You will be able to claim if you are receiving a state pension and live in either an EEA (European Economic Area) country or Switzerland. There are exceptions if you live in a country where the average winter temperature is higher than the UK, such as Spain.
How will the Winter Fuel Payment be paid?
Winter Fuel Payments will be made directly into your bank account, most often between November and December. You can no longer claim for previous years which you could have done previously.
Alternative Ways to Help With Energy Bills in Winter
Cold Weather Payments
Older people, regardless of their age, may be entitled to cold weather payments if they are on certain benefits. These are payments of £25 every time there is a week of very cold weather, meaning zero degrees Celsius or below.
Collective Switching is when groups of people come together in order to bargain with energy providers for a cheaper rate. These are not just friends but formally organised communities that work because the more people they represent the better deal the leadership can get for the members of the community. They can be organised by national newspapers, local councils, or even comparison websites.
Less time-consuming than collective switching, comparison websites like usave offer a quick and easy way of comparing energy tariff
s so that you can find the one that is cheapest for you. Often, providers will put you on the most expensive tariff, so unless you specifically ask to switch you could be paying a lot more for energy than you have to.