What are Cold Weather Payments and am I eligible for them?

Last updated: 11 September 2020

In this guide, you’ll learn the following:

  • What is the Cold Weather Payment?

  • Who gets Cold Weather Payments?

  • How do I apply to receive them?

  • What if my circumstances change?

  • What additional programmes and discounts are there?

What are Cold Weather Payments?

If you’re struggling to pay for heating during chilly winter weather, and you meet certain criteria, the Cold Weather Payment from the Department of Work and Pensions is meant to help. The government offers the payment to eligible households in very cold weather.

For those who qualify, the Cold Weather Payment pays £25 for each seven-day period of very cold weather between 1 November and 31 March. After each qualifying period, you should receive the payment within 14 working days, paid into the same bank or building society account used for any other benefit payments. 

‘Cold weather’ in this instance is defined as temperature averages of zero degrees Celsius or below. These temperatures must be consistently low for seven consecutive days. The term is defined by the Met Office, which uses its weather stations to record temperatures.

This cold weather allowance is available between 1 November and 31 March each year to cover the winter months when households might struggle with high heating costs. It’s important to note that this is just one grant available during this time frame. Cold Weather Payments are unrelated to Winter Fuel Payment, so you may be eligible for both. This assistance doesn’t affect other benefits you might receive. 

Who is eligible for Cold Weather Payments?

So, how do you know if you’re eligible for the Cold Weather Payment? To begin with, the temperatures where you live must fall below zero degrees for seven consecutive days, as outlined above. 

You won’t find a Cold Weather Payments checker online that can tell you if you’re personally eligible for the payment, but the following groups are all listed as being potentially eligible on the Cold Weather Payments website:

  • Income Support

  • Income-based Jobseekers Allowance

  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance

  • Universal Credit

  • Pension Credit

  • Support for Mortgage Interest

In some cases, not everyone who receives these payments will automatically be eligible. While most individuals receiving Pension Credit will also receive the cold weather allowance, there are additional criteria for other categories. 

For example, if you get Income Support or income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, you’ll only qualify for Cold Weather Payments if you also fall into one of the following categories:

  • You have a disabled child

  • You have a child under the age of five living with you

  • You receive Child Tax Credit including a disability element

  • You receive a disability or pensioner premium

Do you receive income-related Employment and Support Allowance? You’re most likely to qualify for Cold Weather Payments if you are also in a work-related support or activity group, but if not, you might also be eligible if you share any of the above circumstances with those on Income Support and Jobseeker’s Allowance.

DWP Cold Weather Payments are available for anyone who receives Universal Credit and isn’t employed or self-employed. To qualify, you will also have to meet one of the following conditions:

  • You have a health condition or disability with limited capability for work

  • You have a child under the age of five living with you

You might also be eligible for the Universal Credit Cold Weather Payment if you have a disabled child, regardless of your employment status. 

How do I apply to receive Cold Weather Payments? 

There’s no need to apply for your payments. If you’re eligible through other benefits, you’ll already be in the system. Those who qualify will be paid automatically within 14 days after a qualifying period of cold weather. This year’s scheme begins on 1 November 2020. 

Contact your pension centre or Jobcentre Plus office if you think you should have received a heating allowance for disabled customers or Cold Weather Payment, but it hasn’t reached your bank account. If you receive Universal Credit, ring the helpline on 0800 328 9344 for assistance. You can also sign into your account to add a note to your online journal. 

What if my circumstances change?

In most cases you should receive your Cold Weather Payment without having to contact anyone, but there are some circumstances where you might need to chase them up.

Have you recently had a new addition to the family? You should contact Jobcentre Plus if you receive Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance and:

  • You’ve had a baby

  • A child under the age of five comes to live with you

This is because the Cold Weather Payment won’t be automatically applied unless Jobcentre Plus is notified of your change in circumstances.

Another situation where you may need to contact your pension centre, Universal Credit helpline or Jobcentre Plus office is if you go into hospital during the qualifying period. This could impact your payments, so be sure to keep the relevant benefits centre informed. 

What additional programmes and discounts are there?

There are additional benefits that you might be eligible for during the winter months:

Winter Fuel Payment

In contrast to the Cold Weather Payment, the Winter Fuel discount is not related to temperature. It’s a yearly, one-off payment designed to offset the cost of fuel during the winter months for older people. You can expect to receive a tax-free cash payment, usually between £100 and £300, to help pay for a rise in heating costs. To qualify for this payment, you’ll need to be born on or before 5 April 1954 and have lived in the UK for at least one day during the week of 21 to 27 September 2020. If not, you may still qualify if you meet additional eligibility criteria – see the government website for details.

Warm Home Discount

This government programme is like the Winter Fuel Payment in that it provides rebates on energy bills for qualifying households. This year’s payment will – like last year – be a single £140 discount for all eligible homes. Find out more about the Warm Home Discount here.

There are also energy efficiency grants available to those who upgrade their home’s insulation. This helps make the home more efficient in the long term, reducing your energy bills throughout the year. 

Energy-saving tips for the winter months

Whether or not you qualify for any of the government schemes like the cold weather allowance, there are additional ways to save money on your heating bills – even over winter. Here are a few tips to help you boost efficiency at home, slashing energy bills in the process. 

  • Insulate your home

The easiest way to cut your energy bills is to insulate your home. This enables your interiors to retain more heat, so you don’t have to put the radiators on full blast all day. Start off small by purchasing draught-proofing materials to seal off any cracks around doors and windows. Draw the curtains at night and fit extra curtains to cover single-glazed doors. A chimney balloon can keep draughts from travelling down into your living space. 

  • Invest in smart technology

If you’re frequently forgetting to switch off your heating or want to save money by only heating selected rooms in your home, consider investing in a smart thermometer.

  • Give radiators a boost

Aside from keeping radiators free to do their job, you can give them a boost with reflector panels and air-circulating booster devices. 

  • Submit regular meter readings

If you’re using estimated readings, this can result in higher energy bills. Keep your bills more accurate by submitting regular readings to your energy supplier. 

  • Switch energy suppliers

Another sure-fire way to save up to £477 a year on your energy bills is to switch to a different supplier [https://www.saveonenergy.com/uk/guides/how-to-switch-gas-and-electricity/]. The process only takes moments and you could find a deal that’s suitable for your location and level of energy use.

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Published on Mon 11 Nov 2019 04.10 GMT