Cold Weather Payment, Winter Fuel Payment and Fuel Direct
It can pay to be in the know about the grants that can help you pay your gas and electricity bills, especially in the cold winter months. There are also schemes to help make your home more energy efficient and cosy. Find out whether you qualify.
Here, we list the different schemes and what you need to do if you think you qualify.
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 .
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.
Energy grants offered under Affordable Warmth and similar schemes help with a wide range of energy efficiency measures, including and . You could also qualify for a and heating controls, have your existing boiler repaired or even get a completely new central heating system. In Northern Ireland the scheme also covers window replacement.
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 or installing a heating system for the first time.
For more information on these schemes, and full eligibility criteria, contact the scheme operator in your part of the UK:
- (UK): 0800 444202
- (Scotland): 0808 808 2282
- (Wales): 0808 808 2244
- (Northern Ireland): 0300 200 7874
The Affordable Warmth Obligation is part of the Energy Company Obligation.
Energy Company Obligation
Cold Weather Payment
Cold Weather Payments are made to households that get qualifying benefits. They 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.
Winter Fuel Payment
If you were born on or before 5 October 1954, 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 between November and December.
If you’re over the age of 66 and live alone you get £200 (it's £100 if you live with someone else who also qualifies) and over-80s get £300.
You should be paid this automatically if you get the State Pension or another such benefit. If you don't receive it, call the Winter Fuel Payment Centre (0800 731 0160). All payments should be made by 13 January 2021.
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. These are 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.
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.
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 .