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Home grants

Cold Weather Payment, Winter Fuel Payment and Fuel Direct

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Cold Weather Payment, Winter Fuel Payment and Fuel Direct

Find out about government grants to make your home more energy efficient or help you pay your gas and electricity bill, including the Winter Fuel Payment, Cold Weather Payment, Affordable Warmth and Fuel Direct.

There are a small range of grants that can help you pay your gas and electricity bills, especially in the cold winter months. Plus there are schemes to help make your home more energy efficient and cosy. Find out if you qualify.

Here, we list the different schemes, and what you need to do if you think you qualify:

Alternatively, find out about the Warm Home Discount, a £140 annual credit paid to your energy account if you’re eligible.

As well as getting extra help through these schemes, make sure you're not paying your energy supplier more than you need to. Use our independent switching service, Which? Switch, to check that you're on the cheapest gas and electricity tariff.

Affordable Warmth and other energy efficiency schemes 

Under the Affordable Warmth Obligation, you might be able to get financial help for energy-saving home improvements. 

It's available in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. In Wales, a scheme called Nest (managed by British Gas) provides assistance to improve the energy efficiency of your home.

Energy grants offered under Affordable Warmth and similar schemes help with a wide range of energy-efficiency measures, including loft insulation and cavity wall insulation. You could also qualify for a new boiler and heating controls, have your existing boiler repaired or even get a completely new central heating system. 

An assessor will visit your home to determine what's needed. 

To qualify, you need to receive certain benefits and must either own your property or rent it privately. If you're renting, you need the owner's permission to do the work. 

If you live in social housing and your home has an energy efficiency rating of E, F or G, you may also be able to get help with insulation if installing a heating system.

If you're not sure what efficiency rating your home has, check its energy performance certificate. Alternatively, ask your landlord or housing association.

For more information on these schemes, and full eligibility criteria, contact the scheme operator in your part of the UK:

The Affordable Warmth Obligation is part of the Energy Company Obligation.

Energy Company Obligation

Subsidised energy-efficient home improvements are available through the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) if you qualify. These can include insulation or replacement boilers. Find out more in our ECO guide.

Cold Weather Payment 

Cold Weather Payments are made to households that get qualifying benefits to help pay for extra heating costs during periods of very cold weather.

To qualify for a Cold Weather Payment, the average temperature where you live must be recorded as, or forecast to be, 0°C or below for seven days in a row. If you're eligible, you will get £25 for each seven-day period between 1 November and 31 March. This should be paid into the same bank account that receives your benefits within 14 days after the cold spell.

The GOV.UK website has a tool (available from November) which enables you to find out if your area is due to receive the Cold Weather Payment. If it is, you’ll be paid it automatically.

Winter Fuel Payment 

If you were born before 5 November 1953, you're likely to be able to get a Winter Fuel Payment to help you pay for gas or electric heating in winter. This annual tax-free lump sum is normally paid from November and most payments are made by Christmas. 

Households with someone over the age of 63 get £100 (or £200 if two of your qualify) and over-80s get £300.

You should be paid this automatically if you get the State Pension or another social security benefit. If you don't receive it, call the office that pays your benefits or pension, or the Winter Fuel Payment Centre (0800 731 0160). All payments should be made by 14 January 2019.

Besides financial help towards your heating, follow our tips for keeping warm in cold weather.

Fuel Direct or third-party deductions 

You can pay some of your bills, including fuel and water, directly from your benefits payments if you’re having difficulties keeping up with bills. This is sometimes called ‘third party deductions’. The benefits you can use are Universal Credit, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, income-related Employment Support Allowance, Income Support and Pension Credit.

If you get Income Support, income-based Jobseeker's Allowance or Universal Credit and are struggling to keep up with fuel or water bills, you can ask your benefits office to pay the supplier directly out of your benefits. 

Fuel Direct payments arrange for your current fuel use and an agreed amount of your unpaid bill to be paid to the company you owe each time your benefits are paid. The payments will stop once you've paid back what you owe.

The amount you’ll pay through deductions directly from your benefits depends on how much you’re paying off. For example, if you get Universal Credit, 5% of it would be deducted for gas, electricity and water.

The amount is decided by Jobcentre Plus or your pension centre. Get in touch with Jobcentre Plus to find out more.

Extra benefits

Depending on your personal and financial situation, you could be eligible for benefits to help you keep up with your bills and household expenses. Check if you qualify for financial help through the benefits system using the GOV.UK website.

Whether you're eligible or not for any of these schemes, you can still save money on energy by switching supplier. Use our independent switching website, Which? Switch, to find the cheapest gas and electricity deal.