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25 Mar 2021

Winter Fuel Payment deadline: claim before 31 March or miss out

Most eligible people receive the payment automatically but some will need to take action before the looming 31 March deadline

Cold weather comes with a financial toll. Extra heating can have a big impact on your energy bills. But there is support available for those in later life to help with the costs of keeping your home at a comfortable temperature.

Winter Fuel Payment is a one-off, tax-free payment from the government. If eligible, you could receive up to £300 a year depending on your circumstances.

Most people who are entitled to it will receive Winter Fuel Payment automatically through their state pension. But if you live abroad or do not receive a state pension, you may need to request this payment manually.

The deadline to make a claim for winter 2020-21 is Wednesday 31 March 2021.

Who is eligible for Winter Fuel Payment?

Households that include anyone receiving the state pension should receive a Winter Fuel Payment. To be eligible 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 this year's payments, the qualifying week is 21-27 September 2020.

You may still be entitled to the benefit if you live in Switzerland or a European Economic Area (EEA) country, provided you have lived or worked in the UK for most of your life. But you won't get the payment if you live in a country with a warmer climate such as Cyprus, France, Gibraltar, Greece, Malta, Spain or Portugal.

You also won't be eligible if you have been receiving free treatment in hospital for more than a year or if you were in prison for the whole of the qualifying week.

There is range of state benefits and allowances available for older people: check you're receiving all the benefits you're entitled to.

Am I eligible for Winter Fuel Payment if I defer my state pension?

Some people choose to delay taking their pension when they reach state pension age - to boost the amount they'll receive later on.

If you defer your state pension, you are still eligible to receive Winter Fuel Payment, but you'll need to make claim. However, you will only need to apply once, no matter how long you delay your pension for.

How do I claim?

Usually, you won't need to claim Winter Fuel Payment - it'll come through automatically if you're eligible. But if any of the following apply, and you haven't received the payment before, you will need to make a claim:

  • You do not get benefits or a state pension
  • You only get Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction, Child Benefit or Universal Credit
  • You get benefits or a state pension but live in Switzerland or an EEA country

If you need to make a claim, do so before 31 March by calling the Winter Fuel Payment Centre on 0800 731 0160 ( or +44 191 218 7777 outside of the UK). You'll need to know your National Insurance number and your bank or building society details.

When will I be paid?

Most payments happen automatically in November or December. They should arrive by mid-January at the latest. If you're eligible and still haven't received the payment, get in touch with the Winter Fuel Payment Centre as soon as you can.

How to get more help with heating costs

Winter Fuel Payment is just one scheme that can help with heating costs.