As the cold draws in this winter, many of us are kick-starting our central heating to keep our homes warm.
But as we all know there may be some who struggle with the cost of heating, so it’s worth knowing about the Government support out there.
Older people are particularly vulnerable and there is extra Government money available, in addition to any State Pension payments. And if you have parents, relatives or neighbours who might need any of the extra support, you can pass the message on to them too.
The Winter Fuel Payment of between £100 and £300 each year helps older people keep warm during the winter months, as they get direct help with paying their heating bills. In 2014/15 Winter Fuel Payments benefited almost 12.5 million older people in around 9 million UK households.
Ninety-eight per cent of people get their Winter Fuel Payment automatically because they are receiving another benefit. However, if you need to claim, it is really simple, just call 03459 15 15 15 with your National Insurance number and have your bank details to hand. Once you’ve claimed, you’ll get Winter Fuel Payments automatically every year unless there is a change in your circumstance. For further information and details and to find out if you’re eligible, go to www.gov.uk/winter-fuel-payment
Cold Weather Payments
Cold Weather Payments may be payable if it gets really cold – if the average temperatures in your area are recorded as, or forecast to be, zero degrees Celsius or below for seven consecutive days. You’ll receive this payment of £25 for each seven-day period of cold weather – automatically, if you already receive Pension Credit or another qualifying benefit and are eligible for a payment.
Warm Home Discount
In addition to Winter Fuel Payments and Cold Weather Payments, the Warm Home Discount could provide a further £140 off your electricity bill – with over two million households currently benefitting each year.
The money isn’t paid to you – it’s a one-off discount on your electricity bill, usually between October and April. If you are eligible, you should have received a letter saying your account will be credited automatically or telling you how to apply. If you’d like more information, call 0345 603 9439 or visit our website: www.gov.uk/the-warm-home-discount-scheme
Older people on lower incomes may also be entitled to Pension Credit and perhaps don’t even realise it. This tops up other income to at least £155.60 for individuals and £237.55 for couples and can make a big difference to your standard of living if you’re eligible. These amounts may be higher for people who are severely disabled, have caring responsibilities or have certain housing costs.
Overall, approximately two million pensioners claim Pension Credit and many more could be eligible.
Older people who have worked hard all their lives, and contributed to our society and economy over many decades, deserve this additional support in their retirement – so I hope as many as possible will apply for our help.
It’s simple to find out more about Pension Credit – just one free phone call to 0800 991234 can be all it takes to find out if you’re eligible. Don’t struggle in silence. Be savvy about what’s available to you and make sure you stay warm this winter.