If you’re a pensioner or living in a low-income household which includes disabled people or children under 5, you should be eligible for Cold Weather Payments if the weather turns really icy.
You get these £25 payments each time the temperature dips below an average of zero degrees Celsius for seven consecutive days, or is forecast to do so. Payments are usually made within 14 working days of the cold snap.
The starting date for the scheme is November 1 each year, and it finishes on March 31 the following year.
Claim your share
So far, over £700m has been paid out under the Cold Weather Payment scheme through 28m separate payments since its launch in 2010.
Pensions Minister Steve Webb said; “In most cases, Cold Weather Payments are paid automatically to those eligible. But I urge anyone, especially older people who might be missing out on Pension Credit, to call us.”
According to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) there are up to 1.6 million pensioners who may be entitled to Pension Credit who are not currently claiming it. These people could also be eligible for the Cold Weather Payment.
You can find out if you’re due a Cold Weather Payment by calling 0800 991234. This number can also be used to claim Pension Credit and Housing Benefit without having to sign a form.
Other help with heating bills
Cold Weather Payments aren’t the only financial help available if you’re struggling to pay heating bills.
The Government has expanded its Warm Home Discount this year to more vulnerable and low income households who need help with energy costs.
Everyone who receives the Guarantee Credit element of the Pension Credit will now qualify for the discount, including those who get the Savings Credit as well.
Around 1.7m pensioner households will be eligible this year.
If you qualify, you’ll get a tax-free discount of £140 on your bills this winter.
You can contact the Warm Home Discount Scheme Helpline on 0845 603 9439. The line is open from Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm.
Speak to your supplier
If you aren’t a pensioner but you’re on a low income or are considered vulnerable you still might be able to get a rebate from your supplier under the Warm Home Discount scheme, although not all providers offer it.
Different suppliers use different criteria to work out who they can help, so you should contact your provider directly to find out if you qualify – the contact details will be on your bill.
Winter Fuel Allowance
If you were born on or before July 5, 1952, then you will qualify for the Winter Fuel Allowance this year. The payment is worth between £100 up to £300 depending on your age and who you live with.
If you’re aged below 80 and live with another person who qualifies, you’ll get £100 each. This rises to £150 each if you’re both aged 80 or over.
If you’re under the age of 80 and live alone, you’ll receive £200, rising to £300 if you’re over 80 and living on your own.
To qualify, you must have been living in the UK throughout the week of September 15-21, 2014. If you get the State Pension or other benefits you should be sent the payment automatically.
If you don’t receive any benefits, you can download a form to claim a Winter Fuel Payment for the winter 2014-15 from www.gov.uk.
If you aren’t eligible for help
If you’re struggling to pay your energy bills but don’t qualify for help under the Warm Home Discount scheme, or any other Government schemes, contact your supplier as soon as possible. They might be able to arrange for you to pay your bill by instalments or agree on a more suitable payment method or tariff.
Here are the numbers you’ll need:
British Gas: 0800 048 0404 from a landline or 0330 100 0302 from a mobile
Eon: 0345 301 5882 and choose option one.
Npower: 0800 073 3000 from a landline or 0330 100 3000 from a mobile
SSE: 0800 300 111
EDF Energy: 0800 269 450
Scottish Power: 0800 027 0072 from a landline or 0345 270 0700 from a mobile
First Utility: 01926 320 700
Extra Energy: 0800 953 4774 from a landline or 0330 303 477 from a mobile
Cooperative Energy: 0800 093 7511
Please note: any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing. Click on a highlighted product and apply direct.
* 51% could save at least £199, MoneySuperMarket Data, September 2014