Falling temperatures throughout the winter months can significantly hike up the price of your heating bills. The Cold Weather Payment is a government-backed scheme that financially supports the most vulnerable in the UK when excessive cold weather hits. Read on to find out if you qualify and how to apply.
What is the Cold Weather Payment?
The Cold Weather Payment is a winter fuel allowance granted by the government to those who meet the qualifying criteria.
If eligible, you could be due a payout of £25 every time the average temperature in your area hits zero degrees celsius or below, for seven or more consecutive days between 1st November and 31st March.
Who qualifies for Cold Weather Payments?
The Cold Weather Payment scheme is primarily aimed at pensioners, those on a low income and households living in fuel poverty. You may be eligible for this scheme if you receive any of the following welfare assistance or means-tested benefits:
- Income Support
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
- Pension Credit
- Support for Mortgage Interest
- Universal Credit
Can I get the Cold Weather Payment on Income Support and Jobseeker’s Allowance?
If you receive Income Support or Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), you are most likely eligible for the Cold Weather Payment if any of the following circumstances apply to you:
- You have a disability or pensioner premium
- You are living with a child with disabilities
- You have a child under the age of 5 living with you
- You also claim a Child Tax Credit that includes a disability element
Cold Weather Payment on income-related Employment and Support Allowance
If you or your partner are an income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) claimant and any of the following situations apply, you may qualify for the Cold Weather Payment:
- You claim a severe or enhanced disability premium
- You qualify for a pensioner premium
- You claim Universal Credit
- You have a child with disabilities
If you’re admitted to hospital or a care home, this could affect your benefit entitlement - always contact your Pension Centre or Jobcentre Plus office if there is any change in your circumstances.
Will I get the Cold Weather Payment on Universal Credit?
You will usually benefit from the Cold Weather Payment if you receive Universal Credit, are neither in employment or self-employed, and one of the following applies to you:
- You qualify for the Limited Capability for Work (LCW) group
- You have a child under the age of 5 living with you
You will also qualify if you claim Universal Credit with a disabled child, even if you are currently employed.
It is important to let your Jobcentre Plus or Pension Centre know that you fall into any of the above categories to ensure that your Cold Weather Payment is processed correctly.
Apply for Cold Weather Payment
Those who meet the qualifying criteria for the Cold Weather Payment do not need to apply. You will automatically receive £25 in winter fuel allowance for each seven day period between 1 November and 31 March.
When will I get my Cold Weather Payment?
If you qualify for the Cold Weather Payment it should be automatically deposited into your bank or building society account within 14 working days after a week of weather below zero degrees.
If you believe that you meet the criteria but still haven’t received the payment once this period has passed, you should get in touch with your local Pension Centre or Jobcentre Plus office as soon as possible. If you receive Universal Credit, you should contact their helpline instead.
Universal Credit Helpline
Please check with your provider if you don't know how much a call will cost.
Telephone: 0345 600 0723
Textphone: 0345 600 0743
*Monday to Friday: 9am-6pm
Cold Weather Payment Checker UK
If you’ve been hit by freezing temperatures and feel you are due a payment, you should visit the Department of Work & Pensions’ Cold Weather Payment checker. Enter the first half of your postcode to see if a payout is due in your area.
Is there more help I can get with winter energy costs?
The Cold Weather Payment is just one of a number of benefits that those living in fuel poverty may qualify for. Read on to see what other assistance is available.
Winter Fuel Payment
The Winter Fuel Payment is an annual tax-free payment of between £100 and £300 made to those over Pension Credit age and other groups that require assistance with their heating costs during the winter. Unlike the Cold Weather Payment, this is paid out no matter what the temperature is.
Those who qualify include the elderly and those who claim certain means-tested benefits.
Warm Home Discount
The Warm Home Discount is a rebate on energy bills for vulnerable groups, such as those on certain means-tested benefits or those receiving Pension Credit.
Those eligible for this year's Warm Home Discount will receive an automatic £140 deduction on their energy bills between October 2019 and April 2020.
Energy suppliers with over 150,000 customers have a legal obligation to participate in the Warm Home Discount, though some smaller providers have also voluntarily joined the scheme.
Energy Company Obligation
The Energy Company Obligation (ECO) is a government initiative with the aim of cutting carbon emissions and helping households lower their heating costs.
Larger energy suppliers, such as the ‘Big Six’ of British Gas, EDF, Eon, Npower, Scottish Power and SSE are legally obliged to cover the costs of insulation and sometimes even boiler repairs and replacements for those who qualify.
How else can I cut my energy costs?
As well as the schemes mentioned in this article, there are many local government initiatives across the country aimed at cutting your energy costs. Get in touch with your local council or Jobcentre Plus to see what other help may be available to you.
Want to reduce your energy consumption?
Find out how much you use and see where you can cut down
Estimate your annual energy use
You can also take easy steps to reduce your bills by making your home more energy efficient. Changes such as draught-proofing and switching to energy-saving light bulbs may not come cheap initially, but the savings certainly add up in the long run.