Winter Fuel Payment

What is it and do you qualify for a payment?

Intended to cover the extra costs of heating your home over the cold winter months, the Winter Fuel Payment can provide up to £300 for people in the UK who need help with their energy bills.

Paid once per year, usually between November and December, the Winter Fuel Allowance was first introduced back in 1997. It is a tax-free benefit that offers assistance to those who need it and does not affect your other benefits.

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What the Winter Fuel Payment is for?

An annual tax-free payment, the Winter Fuel Payment helps people to keep their homes warm and comfortable throughout the winter by providing financial support.

The Winter Fuel Payment, sometimes called the winter fuel allowance, heating allowance scheme or simply the heating allowance, can be provided in addition to other benefits.

How the heating allowance scheme works

You may be entitled to support to help you pay for your gas and electricity supply throughout the winter months.

If you are eligible, you could receive assistance to help you afford your energy bills. This means that, even though it gets darker earlier and the weather is colder, you'll have financial support to stay comfortable by lighting, powering and heating your home during the wintertime.

Whether you qualify for the Winter Fuel Payment and how much money you will receive if you are eligible depends on a combination of factors.

Individuals born on or before 5 October 1954 could be entitled to between £100-£300 to help them heat their homes. If you are eligible for the Winter Fuel Payment and get the State Pension or another social security benefit, you will receive payment automatically.

How much money you'll receive through the Winter Fuel Allowance

The exact amount of money you'll get through the Winter Fuel Allowance depends on your personal circumstances such as your age and who you live with.

If you qualify and live alone, you will receive:

  • £200 if you were born between 21 September 1940 and 5 October 1954
  • £300 if you were born on or before 20 September 1940

If you qualify but none of the people you live with qualify, you will receive:

  • £200 if you were born between 21 September 1940 and 5 October 1954
  • £300 if you were born on or before 20 September 1940

If you qualify and you live with someone who is under 80 years old and also qualifies, you will receive:

  • £100 if you were born between 21 September 1940 and 5 October 1954
  • £200 if you were born on or before 20 September 1940

If you qualify and you live with someone who is 80 years old or over and also qualifies, you will receive:

  • £100 if you were born between 21 September 1940 and 5 October 1954
  • £150 if you were born on or before 20 September 1940

If you qualify and live in a care home but do not get benefits such as Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Jobseeker's Allowance, Income Support, or Pension Credit, you will receive:

  • £100 if you were born between 21 September 1940 and 5 October 1954
  • £150 if you were born on or before 20 September 1940

You won't be required to pay tax on your winter fuel payments, and this benefit won't affect any other benefits or entitlements you have.

Eligibility for the Winter Fuel Allowance

You will qualify for a Winter Fuel Payment if both:

  • you were born on 5 October 1954 or before, and
  • you were living in the UK for at least one day during the qualifying week between 21-27 September 2020.

Note: Both must apply for you to receive the Winter Fuel Allowance.

If you were not living in the United Kingdom during the qualifying week, you may still be eligible for the Winter Fuel Allowance if:

  • you live in a country within the European Economic Area (EEA) or in Switzerland, and
  • you have lived or worked in the UK, or have family in the UK, or have a strong link to the country.

When you won't qualify for the Winter Fuel Payment

Unfortunately, even if you have a genuine and sufficient link to the UK, you won't qualify for the heating payments scheme if you live in a country with a higher average winter temperature than the UK, such as:

  • Cyprus,
  • France,
  • Gibraltar,
  • Greece,
  • Malta,
  • Portugal, or
  • Spain.

Similarly, you won't qualify for the Winter Fuel Payment if during the qualifying week between 21-27 September 2020 you:

  • have been receiving free treatment in hospital for more than one year,
  • were in prison during the qualifying week,
  • lived in a care home consistently between 29 June-27 September 2020 and received:
  • Employment and Support Allowance (ESA),
  • Jobseeker's Allowance,
  • Income Support, or
  • Pension Credit.

You will also not be eligible if you must seek permission to enter the UK and your status includes the condition that you cannot receive public funds.

However, if you don't qualify for the Winter Fuel Payment, you may still qualify for another discount scheme, such as Cold Winter Payments or the Warm Home Discount.

If you think you are entitled to the Winter Fuel Payment but have not received it, you can follow this up by calling the office that pays your benefits. The contact details will be provided on the letters the office has posted to you.

When you'll receive your heating allowance payments

You will receive a letter informing you exactly how much you'll receive through the Winter Fuel Payment scheme, along with an estimated payment date.

Typically, payments are made between November and December. You should have received your money by 13 January 2021. If the money has not been paid by this date, you should follow up with the office that processes your benefit payments.

You'll only receive your heating allowance once per year. If you also receive other benefits, it's likely that you'll get your fuel payment at the same time that you get your other benefit payments through.

How you'll receive your Winter Fuel Allowance payments

Most people who are entitled to receive money through the Winter Fuel Payments initiative will be paid automatically and will not need to do anything to organise this.

Just like other benefits, as well as pensions and allowances, your heating allowance will be paid into a bank account.

However, in some cases, you'll need to claim your Winter Fuel Payment.

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When to claim for Winter Fuel Payments

If you didn't receive a benefit listed below during the qualifying week between 21-27 September 2020, you will need to claim for the scheme:

  • Attendance Allowance
  • Bereavement Benefit
  • Carer's Allowance
  • Disability Living Allowance
  • Employment and Support Allowance
  • Graduated Retirement Benefit
  • Incapacity Benefit
  • Income Support
  • Industrial Injuries Benefits
  • Jobseeker's Allowance
  • Pension Credit
  • Severe Disablement Allowance
  • State Pension
  • War Pension
  • Widow's Benefit

Similarly, you may need to claim for your Winter Fuel Payments if you qualify but do not receive a social security benefit and only receive one of the following benefits:

  • Child Benefit
  • Council Tax Reduction
  • Housing Benefit
  • Universal Credit

You'll also need to claim if you have not received the Winter Fuel Payment before and any of these factors apply:

  • you do not receive benefits or a State Pension,
  • you do receive benefits or a State Pension but live in an EEA country or in Switzerland, or
  • you have deferred your State Pension.

If you automatically received the Winter Fuel Payment before, but since then your circumstances have changed, you may need to make a claim to receive the funds again.

You won't need to claim for your fuel allowance more than once.

What to do if you don't receive your payments

If you think you are eligible but have not been paid automatically, you need to make a claim by the 31 March 2021 deadline to ensure you get the money you are entitled to for the winter 2020-2021 period.

However, you cannot make a claim for the winter 2020-2021 period until 1 August 2020.

If you find that you have not received your payment, you can follow this up by calling the office that pays your benefits. This information will be provided as contact details on the letters they post to you.

How to apply for Winter Fuel Allowance

You can download an application form from the UK Government's website.

If you prefer, you can request a claim form be sent to you. You can do this by contacting the Winter Fuel Payment Centre on:

  • 0800 731 0160 to call from the UK
  • +44 (0)191 218 7777 to call from outside the UK
  • 0800 731 0464 to text from the UK
  • +44 (0)191 218 7280 to text from outside the UK
  • 18001 then 0800 731 0160 if you have hearing and speech difficulties

The Winter Fuel Payment Centre is open between Monday and Friday from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm.

The address to post the completed application form is:

Winter Fuel Payment Centre,
Mail Handling Site A,
Wolverhampton,
WV98 1LR.

When contacting the Winter Fuel Payment Centre, you'll need to have some personal details handy. These include:

  • banking or building society details,
  • National Insurance number,
  • BIC and IBAN numbers if based in an EEA country or in Switzerland,
  • dates when your circumstances changes, including the date you entered into a marriage or civil partnership if applicable.

You may also be asked to confirm whether you were staying away from home during the qualifying week, including if you were in:

  • hospital,
  • a residential care home, or
  • prison custody.

How to challenge a decision about your claim

If you disagree with a decision made about your eligibility to receive the Winter Fuel Payment, you can challenge the decision by asking for mandatory reconsideration.

What to do if your situation changes

When you have a change in circumstances, you should inform the Winter Fuel Payment Centre. Changes to your personal circumstance could include:

  • moving house,
  • moving overseas,
  • having another person move into your household,
  • getting married, or
  • entering into a civil partnership.

If you no longer need your heating allowance and wish to cancel future payments or return an incorrect payment, you can do so at any time by contacting the Winter Fuel Payment Centre.

Couples receiving the Winter Fuel Payment

The Winter Fuel Payment will be paid to your household if you are eligible, however, the payment might be different if you or your partner receives any of the following benefits:

  • Employment and Support Allowance,
  • Job Seeker's Allowance, or
  • Income Support,
  • Pension Credit.

If you qualify for the payment and share your home with another person who is also eligible, you will receive a shared payment. The exact amount you receive will depend on each of your circumstances.

If you qualify, get one of the benefits listed above and live alone, you will receive:

  • £200 if you were born between 21 September 1940 and 5 October 1954
  • £300 if you were born on or before 20 September 1940
< p>If you qualify and live with someone who also gets one of the benefits listed above, one of you will receive:

  • £200 if you were born between 21 September 1940 and 5 October 1954
  • £300 if you were born on or before 20 September 1940

If you qualify but live in a care home and get one of the benefits listed above, unfortunately, you won't be entitled to receive the heating allowance.

Claiming for Winter Fuel Allowance from past winters

It's possible to claim back your Winter Fuel Payments retrospectively for:

  • the winter period in 1997/98, and
  • the winter period in 1999/2000.

However, it's not possible to make claims for winters from 2000/01 or after that point.

To make your claim for your heating allowance from past winters, complete and return an application form. You can download this from the UK Government's website and return it to the Winter Fuel Payment Centre.

Other support available

The Winter Fuel Payment scheme is separate from Cold Weather Payments or the Warm Home Discount, which provide other support:

Cold Weather Payments offer £25 to some households if the temperature in your area is zero degrees or colder for 7 days.

The Warm Home Discount can provide a reduction of £140 on winter electricity bills for vulnerable and low-income households.

How to make your gas and electricity more affordable

Whilst the heating allowance helps many people in the UK to pay their energy bills during the winter months, there are plenty of other ways to make gas and electricity bills more affordable.

Improving the energy efficiency of your home, creating new energy-saving habits around the house, and comparing and switching your energy tariff are three of the best ways to keep utility costs down.

Make your home more energy efficient

  • Insulate your roof and walls so that you don't lose energy through them. This could potentially save you hundreds of pounds each year.
  • Replace any single-glazed window with double glazing or triple glazing to stop heat escaping out of your home.
  • Consider replacing boilers that are 15 years old or more. When you are looking to purchase a new boiler, aim for a model that is new, top-rated and fuel-efficient to reduce your energy use and ensure you benefit from long-lasting savings.
  • Add an insulating jacket to your hot water tank to stop heat escaping and ensure your water heats up more efficiently.
  • Consider purchasing draught excluders and install these outside doors, windows and letterboxes to close gaps and keep heat in.

Use less energy around the house

  • Turn off all of your household appliances at the walls rather than leaving them running. If you see a little red dot, it means your appliance is on standby and not turned off.
  • When you are making a cup of tea or coffee, or when you are boiling your kettle for cooking, only fill your kettle with the amount of water you need.
  • Save hot water by using a bowl for washing up dishes after dinner.
  • Defrost your freezer to avoid a thick layer of ice from acting as a form of insulation because this will cause your freezer to use more energy.
  • For washing and drying your clothes, make sure your washing machine is set no higher than 30˚ and avoid putting clothes in the drier if you can dry them outside on a sunny day.
  • Whenever you need to change a lightbulb, replace it with an energy-saving bulb instead of a regular lightbulb.

Compare and switch energy provider

  • Visit UtilitySavingExpert.com to use the free online comparison tool.
  • Add your postcode, some information about your home, current energy deal and average energy usage. You can find these details by checking a past energy bill or logging into your current gas or electricity supplier's website.
  • Compare the best suppliers instantly to find out exactly how much you could save if you switched to cheaper gas or electricity tariff.
  • Confirm you'd like to switch tariff, add some personal and payment details for your new energy company and they will make the switch for you.