We all know how expensive it can be to heat a home. But what happens to those who are vulnerable and on low incomes if there is a long spell of bitterly cold weather?
There is help available from the government in certain circumstances, so make sure you know what they are if you are struggling to pay fuel bills, or know somebody that is.
What is Cold Weather Payment?
Cold Weather Payment is a one off payment that the government provide for people who are on benefits, to help them cope with increased energy bills during cold weather. The way it is calculated depends on the recorded weather in your area, so payments vary depending on where you live. If the temperature is recorded as, or forecast to be, below zero degrees Celcius or lower for seven consecutive days, you will be issued with a Cold Weather Payment automatically, if you fall into a qualifying category.
Related: EDF tariff for people on benefits
The figure you will receive will be £25 for each seven-day period of cold weather, between November and March. It will not affect your other benefits and will be paid to you via the bank or building society where you normally receive your payments. The money should arrive within 14 days of the cold weather.
Who qualifies for Cold Weather Payments?
Those on these benefits may be eligible for Cold Weather Payments, according to the Gov.uk website. If you have questions or queries about your eligibility, speak to somebody in person to check, or you might be missing out. If you know somebody who is struggling with fuel bills, make sure they have been properly assessed too.
Income Support and income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
Those who receive this benefit are eligible for Cold Weather Payments. Inform Jobcentre plus if you have a disability or pensioner premium, a child aged under 5 living with you, a disabled child or a disability or severe disability element to your Child Tax Credit. If the benefits office do not know about a change in your circumstances, they cannot adjust payments, so do keep them up to date on changes to your living arrangements.
If you get Pension Credit you will usually be eligible for Cold Weather Payments. It is particularly important for the elderly to keep warm during cold weather, so make sure any elderly neighbours and relatives are aware of the availability of the Cold Weather Payment allowance.
It is likely you will get the extra payment if you get Universal Credit, you’re not employed, self-employed and one if any of the following conditions apply to you: if you have ‘limited capability for work’ element to your Universal Credit; if you have a disabled child element to your Universal Credit claim; if you have a child under the age of five living at your home.
Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
If you get income-related ESA plus any of the following, you may be entitled to the Cold Weather Payment: a ‘support or work-related’ component to your ESA; a ‘severe or enhanced disability premium’; a pensioner premium; a child who is disabled; a child under five living with you; Child Tax Credit that ‘includes a disability or severe disability’ component.
How do you claim?
The best thing about the Cold Weather Payment is that you do not need to apply to get it, since you will be paid automatically if you are eligible. You can enter your postcode here to find out if you are likely to be covered in your area. Don’t forget, if you have a child under five who has come to live with you, this is a change in circumstance that you must tell Jobcentre Plus about, so that it can be considered as part of your Cold Weather Payment assessment. Keep warm this winter and don’t skimp on heating if you or other members of your household are vulnerable to cold.