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Fuel costs

You or the person you are looking after may be entitled to certain payments to help with fuel bills.


This information applies to people living in England, Wales, Scotland & Northern Ireland.


Winter Fuel Payments

The Winter Fuel Payment is a yearly tax free payment of between £100 and £300 to help people pay for their heating in winter. Getting the payment will not affect any of your other benefits.

To qualify for a Winter Fuel Payment you must meet the following conditions:

  • you were born on or before 5 November 1953 
  • you must have lived in the UK for at least one day throughout the week of 16 to 22 September 2019

How much you get depends on your circumstances during the qualifying week (16 to 22 September 2019), and you can see further information about this here.

Payment is automatic if you meet any of the following conditions:

  • you received a payment last year
  • you are getting a State Pension
  • you or your partner are getting one of the following benefits: Pension Credit; income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA); income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

If any of the above don’t apply to you, for example – if you are getting Universal Credit, Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction and/or Child Benefit, then you will need to make a claim as your payment will not be automatic. To find out about claiming, call the Winter Fuel Payment helpline on 0800 731 0160. You can also download a claim form here (if you live in England, Wales & Scotland) or here (if you live in Northern Ireland).

Payments are generally made between November and December. If you have not had your payment by 14 January 2020, you should call the office that pays you your benefits.

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Cold Weather Payments

If you're receiving certain benefits you may be able to get a Cold Weather Payment of £25 for each week between 1 November and 31 March, in which the average temperature in your local area is at or below freezing over seven consecutive days. Getting the payments will not affect any of your other benefits. You can check if your area is due a payment in November 2019.

You are entitled to Cold Weather Payments if you meet one of the following conditions:

  • you receive Pension Credit
  • you receive Income Support or income-based Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) and have one or more of the following:
    • a disability premium or a pensioner premium;
    • a disabled child premium within your Income Support or income-based JSA;
    • Child Tax Credit with a disabled child element or a severely disabled child element; or
    • a child under five years old
  • you receive Universal Credit, you are not employed or self-employed, and you have one or more of the following: a child under five years old; or a limited capability for work element (with or without a work-related activity element) (or would do so but for the fact that you have a carer element)
  • you receive Universal Credit and you have a disabled child element within your Universal Credit award (in this situation you can be in employment or self-employment)

You don't need to apply. If you are entitled to a Cold Weather Payment, you’ll be paid it automatically. Cold Weather Payments are usually paid into the same bank or building society account as your benefit payments. After each period of very cold weather in your area, you should receive a payment to your account within 14 working days.

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Warm Home Discount

The Warm Home Discount scheme starts on 14 October 2019. It means that if you meet certain conditions you could get a £140 discount on your electricity bill (correct for winter 2019 to 2020). Getting the discount will not affect any of your other benefits.

See the You Gov website to find out if you meet the conditions to qualify for this discount: https://www.gov.uk/the-warm-home-discount-scheme or contact the Warm Home Discount Team on 0800 731 0214.

If you on a low income or get certain means-tested benefits you may be able to apply for this discount. Each electricity supplier who is part of the scheme has their own extra eligibility conditions, and you should contact your supplier to see if you meet their conditions, and if so how to apply.

You can see a list of all the electricity suppliers that are part of the scheme here.

 

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Other help

Reducing your fuel bills

You could contact your supplier to see if they have any discounted tariffs for vulnerable customers. Some suppliers also offer help with energy efficiency measures such as insulation or draught proofing.

If you are unable to benefit from a special discounted tariff it is still worth asking if you could be paying less. They may be able to offer you a cheaper deal, or you might be able to save money by paying in a different way, for example by direct debit.

You may also want to shop around to see if you can find a better deal from another supplier, by using a price comparison website. To use one of these services you will need to provide information such as your postcode, the name of your current supplier and the name of your deal, and an idea of how much you spend on gas and electricity. You will then be provided with details of how much you would pay if you changed to other suppliers. You should also call the gas and electricity suppliers directly to confirm these prices, before making any decision.

Note: This information does not apply to Northern Ireland. There is only one electricity supplier and there are only two gas suppliers. You can still contact your supplier to see if you are on the best price plan and to ask if there is other help they may be able to provide.

Energy saving improvements

The Energy Saving Trust offers independent expert advice on saving energy in your home and has information on their website which you can view here.

If you own or rent your home and are considering making energy efficiency improvements, there are a number of schemes provided by the Government, energy suppliers and local councils for example that may be able to help. Some schemes are only available to people on low incomes or certain benefits.

The schemes available will depend on whether you live in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. The charity Turn2us provides some useful information on their web page here.

Help with fuel debts

If you are in debt with your electricity or gas supplier, you might be able to get a grant to help you with this payment. Whether you will be able to get a grant will depend on your household income and savings/capital and your household circumstances. In addition, grant providers generally like to see that you have had debt advice before you try and get help in the form of a grant. See our Help with debt page for details of how to get debt advice.

Some electricity and gas suppliers have Trusts or Funds which can offer grants to their own customers who are in debt:

In addition, there is a British Gas Energy Trust which can offer grants to anyone in electricity or gas arrears, regardless as to whether they are a British Gas customer or not.

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