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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 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:

  • have reached the qualifying age (born on or before 5th May 1953) (for winter 2016 to 2017 - this date changes every year)
  • normally live in Great Britain or Northern Ireland throughout the week of 19 to 25 September 2016

How much you get depends on your circumstances during the qualifying week, and you can see the different amounts 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)

Otherwise, you will need to make a claim for the payment by 31st March 2017 by calling the Winter Fuel Payment helpline on 0345 915 15 15. You can also download a claim form here (if you live in England, Wales & Scotland) or here (if you live in Northern Ireland). 

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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 1st November and 31st March, in which the average temperature in your local area is at or below freezing over 7 consecutive days. Getting the payments will not affect any of your other benefits.

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.

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, a pensioner premium or a disabled child premium within your Income Support or income-based JSA; or Child Tax Credit with a disabled child element or a severely disabled child element; or a child under five years old
  • you receive income-related Employment Support Allowance (ESA) and have one or more of the following: a support component, a work-related activity component, a severe or enhanced disability premium, or a pensioner premium within your income-related ESA; or 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 and 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 it includes a carer element), or a disabled child element within your Universal Credit award, and you are not in employment or gainful self-employment during the qualifying week (although this does not apply if your award includes the disabled child element)
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Warm Home Discount

The Warm Home Discount scheme means that if you meet certain conditions you could get a £140 discount on your electricity bill (correct for winter 2016 to 2017). 

You will qualify for this discount if on 10th July 2016 you meet all the following conditions:

  • your electricity supplier was part of the scheme
  • your name (or your partner's) was on the bill
  • you were getting Guarantee Pension Credit (even if you get Savings Pension Credit as well)

If you meet the above conditions you should get a letter this autumn or winter (by 24th December at the latest) telling you either:

  • you don't have to apply - you'll get the discount automatically
  • to apply by 29th January - the letter will tell you why and how

If you don't get a letter but think you meet the above conditions then you should contact the Warm Home Discount Team on 0345 603 9439.

If you don't meet the above conditions but are on a low income or get certain means-tested benefits you may still be able to apply for this discount. Each electricity supplier 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.

Grants or schemes to help with the cost of energy saving improvements

There are a number of grants and schemes available to help with the cost of having energy saving improvements fitted in your home.

The Energy Saving Trust offers independent expert advice on saving energy in your home and has information on their website about the grants and schemes that might be available (which you can view here).

If you live in England, Wales or Northern Ireland you could contact the Energy Saving Advice Service for further information on 0300 123 1234 or by email (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

If you live in Scotland you could contact Home Energy Scotland for further information on 0808 808 2282 or online

Tips for saving energy

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

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