What support is available to help with winter fuel bills
Q. I have recently started to receive my State Pension with a small top up of Guaranteed Pension Credit from September of this year. As winter is approaching I know I may get help with winter fuel bills but I’m confused as to the type of help available and do I have to do anything to claim or get paid. Can you clarify and advise what action I may need to take.
A. This can be confusing for many client’s as some help is provided by the Government via the DWP, some help is from your actual fuel supplier and in some circumstances you must submit a claim whereas in other circumstances the payment is made automatically. For financial assistance there are three main sources of help and depending on your individual circumstances you could be entitled to some, all or nothing. Help from the DWP is available via two schemes.
The Winter Fuel Allowance is a non-means tested payment for anyone born before April 5, 1954, the payment will vary depending on your age and if your partner also qualifies. The payment is normally automatically paid, no claim is necessary and you will normally receive written confirmation. If you have deferred your state pension however this may cause you to lose out on the payment or if you think you qualify but get no payment then call the hep line on 0800 731 0160.
Cold Weather Payment. Again this is an automated payment but is only paid for people receiving means-tested benefits such as Pension Credit, Income Support, Income Based ESA or JSA and Universal Credit. Depending on the type of means-tested benefits you get you may also need to meet other criteria, for example have children under 5, have additional medical conditions, etc. The payment is also only paid if there has been 7 days or more where the temperature average for your local weather station is 0 degrees Celsius or below. The current payment is £25 for each week of cold weather.
Warm Home Discount. This payment is made by your energy supplier. The only people who automatically qualify are Pensioners receiving Guaranteed Pension Credit (savings credit does not automatically qualify you). Again it is not necessary normally to claim directly if you are in this group and your fuel provider will normally inform you of when your payment will be made. If you don’t hear about the payment then you need to speak to your supplier. The scheme also operates for other people on benefits or low income BUT the criteria will vary from energy supplier and you are required to submit an application if you meet the criteria. The current award is £140.