Cold Weather Payments
If the weather is very cold this winter, and your income is low, you may be eligible for a Cold Weather Payment to help you cover the cost of your energy bills.
What is the Cold Weather Payment?
The Cold Weather Payments scheme runs every winter from November 1 to March 3, and is designed to help people in receipt of certain benefits cope with higher heating bills.
If you are eligible, then these payments should be paid automatically into the same bank or building society account as any other benefits you receive - you do not need to apply for the scheme.
Who is eligible?
You may be entitled to Cold Weather Payments if you are receiving certain benefits. These are Pension Credit, Income Support, income-based Jobseeker's Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance and Universal Credit.
For example, if you receive Income Support and income-based Jobseeker's Allowance and you have a disability, a child who is disabled, Child Tax Credit that includes a disability element or a child under five living with you, you'll usually receive Cold Weather Payments.
If you receive income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), you should be entitled to Cold Weather Payments if you also qualify for the support or work-related component of ESA, a severe or enhanced disability premium, a pensioner premium or have a disabled child.
When do you get it?
Cold Weather Payments will only be made when temperatures drop below a certain level for a set period of time.
A network of weather stations gathers temperature information to ascertain when there is a “period of very cold weather” in any postcode area.
A “period of very cold weather” is defined as when the temperature is either recorded as an average of 0 degrees Celsius or below for seven or more days in a row, or if it is forecast to be an average of 0 degrees Celsius or below for seven or more days in a row.
When this is the case in your postcode area, a Cold Weather Payment should be paid into your account within 14 working days.
How much will you receive?
If you're eligible for Cold Weather Payments, you will get £25 for each seven-day period of very cold weather between November 1 and March 31. So, if there are four of these periods between November and March, you'll receive £100 in total.
How do Cold Weather Payments differ from Winter Fuel Payments?
The Winter Fuel Payment is an annual payment you get when you are aged 60 or over to help pay your heating bills.
The payment is made regardless of weather conditions, and is worth between £100 and £300 each year, with those over 80 receiving the highest payments.
Will the Cold Weather Payment affect this or any other benefits?
No, Cold Weather Payments will not affect other benefits you receive.
What else do I need to know?
If you think you should have received a Cold Weather Payment but you haven't, get in touch with your local pension centre or Jobcentre Plus and let them know.
If you are finding it hard to pay your heating bills, you should find out if you are eligible for any other financial help. You might qualify for the Warm Home Discount Scheme (WHDS), which was originally only available until 2014/15 but has now been extended to 2015/16.
Under the Warm Home Discount Scheme energy companies above a certain size provide their most vulnerable customers with a rebate on their annual energy bills. During winter 2014/ 2015 this rebate will amount to £140.
For more information, contact the Warm Home Discount Scheme Helpline direct on 0845 603 9439.
†10% of customers could save up to £670. MoneySuperMarket Data, May 2016