We all tend to use more fuel during the Winter months, which means most people see an increase in their bills over this time of year. When temperatures are lower outside, for example, you’re likely to have your heating on for longer.
Additionally, lifestyle factors can play a role in the extra fuel usage. You may be more reliant on appliances like tumble dryers when you can’t air dry your washing. Similarly, you may have your television, computers and other electronic devices switched on more often if you spend more time indoors during the Winter. All of this extra power usage equates to higher bills.
Fortunately, there is help available. The Winter Fuel Payment is designed to cover the extra cost associated with heating your home in the colder months. However, not everyone is able to apply for the Payment, so you’ll need to check whether you fit the criteria before you make an application.
Winter Fuel Payment Eligibility
Your eligibility for the Winter Fuel Payment depends on your age. Anyone over the state pension age in the UK meets the Winter Fuel Payment eligibility criteria. However, you do need to have lived in the UK for a minimum of one day during the ‘qualifying week’. This week changes each year, so be sure to check whether you meet the relevant criteria even year if you spend a lot of time out of the country.
However, if you did not live in the UK for at least one day of that week, you might still be able to get the Winter Fuel Payment. If you live in a country within the European Economic Area or Switzerland, for example, you can still receive the Winter Fuel Payment, providing you have reached state pension age.
Alternatively, if you have a ‘sufficient and genuine’ link to the UK but live elsewhere, you could be eligible to receive the Winter Fuel Payment. This can apply to people who spent a long time living in the UK but later emigrated those who worked in the UK for a substantial period of time, or people who still have family living in the UK.
How to Apply for Winter Fuel Payment
Most people receive the Winter Fuel Payment automatically if they’re eligible to receive it. If you currently receive a state pension in the UK, for example, the Winter Fuel Payment should be deposited into the same account that your pension payments go into it. As the payment is made automatically, you do not need to apply for it.
If you have received a state pension before but you have deferred it or moved to a country within the EEA or to Switzerland, you will need to apply for the WF Payment. You can claim the WFP over the phone or by post. You can also contact the Winter Fuel Payment Centre via email if you need to make an enquiry.
If you are eligible to receive the Winter Fuel Payment but do not receive a state pension or state benefits, you may not receive the Winter Fuel Payment automatically. This means you will need to apply by contacting the Winter Fuel Payment Centre by post or telephone.
How Much Is the Winter Fuel Payment?
How much you’ll receive as a Winter Fuel Payment depends on your circumstances. In general, however, most people receive between £100-£300 as a Winter Fuel Payment. The Government uses your circumstances during the relevant qualifying week to determine how much you’ll receive as a Winter Fuel Payment.
If you live alone or with someone else who isn’t eligible for the Winter Fuel Payment, for example, you will receive a higher payment than if you live with someone else who qualifies. Although, if the person you live with also qualifies, they should receive a separate Winter Fuel Payment too.
Similarly, people who are over the age of 80 typically receive a higher Winter Fuel Payment than those who are above state pension age but under 80.
In addition to this, you may receive a slightly different amount as a Winter Fuel Payment if you receive a qualifying benefit.
It’s worth noting that the Winter Fuel Payment is tax-free, so it won’t be subject to income tax.
When Is the Winter Fuel Payment Made?
Winter Fuel Payments are usually paid automatically in November or December every year. You will typically receive a letter before the funds are deposited into your account. This letter will confirm your eligibility and tell you how much you’re going to receive.
It’s important to read this document carefully to check that your circumstances are accurately reflected. If they aren’t, you could receive too much or too little as a Winter Fuel Payment. If you believe the assessment is incorrect, you can contact the Winter Fuel Payment Centre to request clarification.
If you don’t receive the Winter Fuel Payment automatically, you can make your application at any time before the 31st March of the following year. If you were due to receive a Winter Fuel Payment in 2020 and didn’t receive it automatically, for example, you could apply for it at any time before 31st March 2021. However, these deadlines are subject to change, so be sure to check the updated deadlines on the Government’s website.
When Is the Winter Fuel Payment Paid to People Over the Age of 80?
Although people over the age of 80 can receive a higher Winter Fuel Payment, the funds are deposited in the same way, at the same time, regardless of age. This means that people over the age of 80 should also receive their Winter Fuel Payment automatically between Nov 1 and Dec 31.
Similarly, if you don’t receive the Winter Fuel Payment automatically, you can apply for it by contacting the Winter Fuel Payment Centre and making your application before the relevant deadline.
What Information Do You Need to Claim a Winter Fuel Payment?
If you don’t receive the Winter Fuel Payment automatically and you need to apply for it, you’ll to supply the Winter Fuel Payment Centre with some information. In order to proceed with an application, you’ll need:
· Your bank and building society details (e.g. account number and sort code)
· Your National Insurance number
· The date you got married or entered into a civil partnership
If you don’t live in the UK, you’ll also need your BIC and IBAN numbers to apply for a Winter Fuel Payment.
Can You Claim Winter Fuel Payments and Christmas Bonus?
The Christmas Bonus is a one-off, tax-free payment of £10. To be eligible to receive the Christmas Bonus, you’ll need to be in the UK, Isle of Man, Gibraltar or Channel Islands or be ‘ordinarily resident’ in any of these locations during the relevant qualifying week. However, the qualifying week for the Christmas Bonus and the qualifying week for the Winter Fuel Payment is usually a different week in the calendar year.
In addition to this, you’ll need to receive at least one of the relevant qualifying benefits during the relevant qualifying week to be eligible to receive the Christmas Bonus.
As one of the qualifying benefits for the Christmas Bonus is the state pension, most people who are eligible to receive the Winter Fuel Payment are also eligible to receive the Christmas Bonus. You can claim both payments in the same year.
Like the Winter Fuel Payment, the Christmas Bonus is usually paid automatically to eligible recipients. However, if you believe you should have received the Christmas Bonus and haven’t, you can contact the pension centre or Jobcentre Plus centre that usually deals with your benefit payments to query the oversight.
What If You’re Not Eligible for the Winter Fuel Payment?
If you’re not eligible to receive the Winter Fuel Payment, you may be entitled to alternative support. For example, the Cold Weather Payment is designed to assist people with extra heating costs if the temperature in their area drops below 0°C for at least seven days in a row between 1st November and 31st March. The Cold Weather Payment is a one-off payment of £25, but you need to be receiving Universal Credit or an alternative qualifying benefit to be eligible to claim it.
Alternatively, you may be able to join the Warm Home Discount Scheme. Large energy companies are required to offer this scheme, although many smaller energy providers do too. This is a one-off payment that reduces £140 off your energy bills. If you’re eligible, the money is paid directly to your electricity account.
However, every provider has their own criteria, so it’s worth contacting your energy company to see if you qualify.
As you can see, there are many ways to access help with your fuel bills, particularly during the colder months of the year. The Winter Fuel Payment is the most well-known financial support for energy costs, but there are other types of support you may be entitled to. By checking your eligibility, you can confirm how much you’re eligible to receive and how much you can save!