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Winter Fuel Payment and other help with heating costs

Find out if you are eligible for this tax-free payment towards heating costs and how to make a claim. Also read about other schemes, such as Warm Home Discount Scheme and Cold Weather Payment.
5 min read
In this article
What is Winter Fuel Payment? Are you eligible for Winter Fuel Payment? How much is Winter Fuel Payment? Receiving Winter Fuel Payment
How to make a claim if you need to Appealing against a benefits decision More help with heating costs in winter Find the best energy supplier for your home

What is Winter Fuel Payment?

This tax-free, annual payment of between £100 and £300 is designed to help older people with their heating costs in the colder winter months. It is also known as Winter Fuel Allowance. 

Are you eligible for Winter Fuel Payment?

Winter Fuel Payment is available for any households that include someone over the state pension age. The benefit is not means-tested, so it is does not depend on your financial situation.

To receive the payment during the winter of 2020-21, you must have been born on or before 5 October 1954, and have lived in the UK for at least one day during the ‘qualifying week’. For 2020-21 payments, the qualifying week was 21-27 September 2020. 

You may also be entitled to the payment if you:

  • live in Switzerland or a European Economic Area (EEA) country
  • have lived or worked in the UK for most of your life.

You won’t be eligible to claim if you:

  • live in Cyprus, France, Gibraltar, Greece, Malta, Portugal or Spain, due to their warmer climates
  • were in prison for the whole of the qualifying week
  • lived in care and received certain benefits
  • have been receiving free treatment in hospital for more than a year.

How much is Winter Fuel Payment?

Winter Fuel Payment is a one-off annual payment of between £100 and £300. The exact amount you are entitled to depends on your age and living circumstances during the qualifying week. Here’s how it is calculated.

You qualify and live alone (or nobody else who lives with you qualifies):

  • Aged 66 to 80: £200
  • Aged 80 or over: £300

You qualify and receive an eligible benefit (listed below):

  • Aged 66 to 80: £200
  • Aged 80 or over: £300

You qualify and live with someone under 80 who also qualifies:

  • Aged 66 to 80: £100
  • Aged 80 or over: £200

You qualify and live with someone 80 or over who also qualifies:

  • Aged 66 to 80: £100
  • Aged 80 or over: £150

You qualify and live with your partner or civil partner, and they get one of the benefits listed below:

  • Aged 66 to 80: your partner will get the Winter Fuel Payment on your behalf
  • Aged 80 or over: your partner will get the Winter Fuel Payment on your behalf.

You qualify, but live in a care home or independent hospital and don’t get any of the benefits listed below:

  • Aged 66 to 80: £100
  • Aged 80 or over: £150

Qualifying benefits for Winter Fuel Payment

Pension Credit, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Income Support.

Receiving Winter Fuel Payment

Most payments are made in November or December, but should arrive by mid-January at the latest.

If you receive state pension or one of the other benefits listed above, you’ll get the payment automatically along with one of your benefit payments. If you don’t receive other benefits and are still eligible, you may need to make a claim.

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How to make a claim if you need to

To make a claim you’ll need to contact the Winter Fuel Payment Centre by phone or post.

Call the Winter Fuel Payment centre to request a claims form or to get help and information:

0800 731 0160

Textphone:

0800 731 0464

To apply by post, you’ll need to complete a claim form, which can be downloaded from gov.uk or ordered by phone from the above office. Completed claim forms should be posted to: Winter Fuel Payment Centre, Mail Handling Site A, Wolverhampton, WV98 1LR.

Claims for winter 2020-21 could be made from 1 August 2020 until 31 March 2021.

Visit gov.uk for more information about how to claim Winter Fuel Payment and what information you will be expected to provide.

Appealing against a benefits decision

If you apply for Winter Fuel Payment and don’t agree with the decision you receive, you may be entitled to appeal against it – this is also known as ‘mandatory reconsideration’. See our article on appealing against a benefits decision for more advice on how to appeal.

More help with heating costs in winter

Warm Home Discount Scheme

The Warm Home Discount Scheme is a payment of £140 to help those struggling to pay their energy bills during winter. It’s a compulsory scheme for the large energy companies, and some of the smaller ones, and it’s paid as an annual credit into the electricity account of those who are eligible.

Two groups of people are eligible for the warm home allowance:

  • The core group: those who receive the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit. Usually, the energy supplier will identify automatically whether you’re eligible, so there’s no need to apply for it.
  • The broader group: those on a low income or who get certain means-tested benefits.

Each supplier has its own eligibility criteria to assess those in the broader group, and these are approved by the regulator Ofgem. Find out more about the different suppliers’ eligibility criteria, along with more in-depth information about the allowance, in the Warm Home Discount Scheme article on Which? Home & garden.

The 2021-22 scheme commences on 18 October 2021.

In Northern Ireland, the Warm Home Discount Scheme doesn’t apply as the Northern Ireland Executive decides its own fuel poverty objectives and policies.

Cold Weather Payment

If you’re receiving certain benefits, such as Pension Credit and Universal Credit, you may be eligible for Cold Weather Payments to help pay for extra heating costs during periods of very cold weather.

When the average temperature where you live is recorded as (or forecast to be) 0°C or below for seven days in a row, you can get a £25 payment. This applies for every seven-day period of very cold weather between 1 November and 31 March.

You can check to see if the temperature in your area meets the requirements using a handy postcode tool on the gov.uk website.

If you’re eligible for a Cold Weather Payment, you won’t need to make a claim as it will be calculated automatically and paid directly into your bank account along with your benefits.

Support from your energy supplier

Many energy companies offer extra support for vulnerable consumers, including older people, those on a low income or with a disability. This may include help with paying bills or managing your account, or support with repairs or maintenance.

Examples of such support services include the British Gas Priority Services Register and E.ON’s Energy Fund. Contact your supplier to find out what extra support they may offer.

Find the best energy supplier for your home

Which? can help you choose the best energy company for your home. You can also quickly find out if you could save money on your energy bills.

See the Which? energy survey to get started. 

Further reading

Benefits for older people

Read about the benefits available in later life: Attendance Allowance, PIP, Winter Fuel Payment and more.

Attendance Allowance

Read about Attendance Allowance and the payment rates, plus tips on applying and completing the form.

Last updated: 05 May 2021