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Home & garden.

Updated: 26 May 2022

Cold Weather Payment, Winter Fuel Payment and Fuel Direct

Find out if you can get government help to pay your gas and electricity bills, including the Cold Weather Payment, Winter Fuel Payment or Fuel Direct
Sarah Ingrams
Used_moneyhousenew 451971

Several government schemes can help you pay your energy bills, especially in the colder winter months. Here, we list the available schemes and how to find out if 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 best value gas and electricity tariff for you, especially if competitively priced deals return.

Also check if you qualify for the Warm Home Discount, as a £140 annual credit will be paid to your energy account if you’re eligible.

Cold Weather Payment

Roof with snow on and snowy scene reflected in the window

Cold Weather Payments are made to households that get qualifying benefits. They help pay for extra heating costs when it's very cold.

To get 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 with those temperatures between 1 November and 31 March. This should be paid into the same bank account that receives your benefits, within 14 days of the cold spell.

You don't need to apply for cold weather payments. But you must tell Jobcentre Plus if you get any of the following:

  • Pension Credit
  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Universal Credit
  • Support for Mortgage Interest.

If you receive any of the aforementioned benefits, it doesn't guarantee you'll get Cold Weather Payments. Only Pension Credit allows you to automatically qualify for it. You may need to meet additional criteria, for example having a child under five, a disabled child, a disability or pensioner premium.

The gov.uk website has a tool so you can find out if your area is due to receive the Cold Weather Payment (active from 1 November). If it is, you’ll be paid it automatically.

Winter Fuel Payment

Hands holding a cup of tea

If you were born on or before 26 September 1955, it's likely you'll be able to get Winter Fuel Payments of between £100 and £300. The payments are to help pay for your gas or electric heating in winter. They are tax-free and also known as the Winter Fuel Allowance.

The Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced in May 2022 that eight million pensioner households who currently receive the Winter Fuel Payment will get an additional £100-£300 depending on their age and circumstances starting in the Autumn.

The amount varies depending on your age and circumstances, and are as follows:

  • £100 if you're over 66 and live with someone else who qualifies
  • £200 if you're over 66 and live alone (or with others who don't qualify)
  • £150 if you're over 80 and live with someone else who is over 80 and qualifies
  • £200 if you're over 80 and live with someone under 80 who qualifies
  • £300 if you're over 80 and live alone (or with others who don't qualify).

You will be paid automatically if you're over 66 and get the State Pension or another social security benefit (excluding Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction, Child Benefit or Universal Credit). 

You don't need to apply if you have received Winter Fuel Payments before, unless you've deferred your State Pension or moved overseas.

If you have moved abroad, you'll need to have lived in the UK for at least one day during the 'qualifying period'. For 2021-22 payments, that was 20 to 26 September 2021.

But you won't be eligible for the Winter Fuel Payment if you:

  • Live in Cyprus, France, Greece, Gibraltar, Malta, Portugal or Spain (owing 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.

If you are entitled to the Winter Fuel Payment, you should receive it between November and December. If you haven't received the payment by 13 January 2022, contact the Winter Fuel Payment Centre (0800 731 0160).

Read more about benefits and allowances for people who are over the state pension age in our guide to Benefits for older people.

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
  • 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.

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

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 guide to the Energy Company Obligation (ECO).

Other energy efficiency schemes

Woman looking at energy bills

You might be able to get financial help for energy-saving home improvements through schemes that run in your area.

These can cover a range of energy efficiency measures including:

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

To qualify, you'll often 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'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:

Read more ways to cut your energy bills and find out how to make your home more energy efficient.

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.