During cold winter months, paying for simple things like heating, gas, and electricity can be a stretch for many households.
To help out, the government have implemented the Cold Weather Payment scheme. In this guide we will look at this scheme in detail and discuss how you can claim it.
What is the Cold Weather Payment?
The Cold Weather Payment is a payment paid to recipients of certain government benefits to help them heat their homes during cold weather periods in the winter when energy use is at its highest.
Those eligible will receive a payment for each seven-day period where the weather is, or forecast to be, 0 degrees Celsius or below.
Payment is only issued if the required weather spans over a seven consecutive day period.
Who is eligible for the Cold Weather Payment?
Eligibility for the Cold Weather Payment depends on whether you are receiving the one or more of the following benefits:
If you receive Pension Credit, you’ll most likely be eligible to receive Cold Weather Payments to help you with energy bills during colder winter periods.
Income Support or Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
You’ll usually get Cold Weather Payments if you get Income Support or income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, and have any of the following:
- A disability or pensioner premium.
- A child who’s disabled.
- Child Tax Credit that includes a disability or severe disability element.
- A child under 5 living with you.
Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
If you get Income-related ESA and are also part of a work-related activity group or support group, you may be eligible for Cold Weather Payments.
You’ll most likely get the Cold Weather Payment if you get Universal Credit and you’re not employed. One of the following must also apply:
- You have a health condition or disability and cannot work or have restricted capacity to do work.
- You have a child under the age of 5 living with you.
Support for Mortgage Interest payments
You’ll usually get Cold Weather Payments if you receive Support for Mortgage Interest.
Are there any other benefits that I claim that might make me eligible for Cold Weather Payments?
If you receive any of these have a look at the relevant Gov.Uk website or contact your local Jobseekers Plus office to check eligibility.
How do I apply and claim for the Cold Weather Payment?
If you are eligible and you have a baby or a child under 5 who has come to live with you, then you will need to tell Jobcentre Plus. If you don’t do this, you may not automatically get the Cold Weather Payment.
What if I am eligible for the Cold Weather Payment but haven’t received it automatically?
If you believe you are eligible for the Cold Weather Payment, but you are not receiving it, then you should do the following:
- Talk to your pension centre, if applicable
- Talk to your Jobcentre Plus office, if applicable
If you are receiving Universal Credit but not getting the Cold Weather Payment, you’ll need to sign into your Universal Credit account and add a note to your journal that you should be receiving it. Someone will then contact you about the matter and help you to resolve it.
If you do not have a Universal Credit account don’t panic. Simply ring the Universal Credit helpline and they will help you to claim the benefit.
How much is the Cold Weather Payment?
The £25 will be repeated for each 7-day period where this occurs.
Will the Cold Weather Payment affect my other benefits?
Absolutely not. Any Cold Weather Payments received have no effect on your other benefits in any way.
When does the Cold Weather Payment Scheme run?
The Cold Weather Payment scheme runs between 1 November and 31 March of every year. To find out more information or to check updated payment details, visit the government website.
What are tax implications of the Cold Weather Payment?
Great news! Cold Weather Payments are a non-taxable benefit. This means that if you’re eligible, you’ll be able to keep the full amount when it’s paid to you without any tax deductions or liability.
What’s the difference between the Cold Weather Payment and the Winter Fuel Payment?
The Winter Fuel Payment is a different benefit that’s paid out specifically to pensioners. All people above national retirement age will receive The Winter Fuel Payment, regardless of weather conditions. The amount of Winter Fuel Payment received is calculated according to age, and whether or not you live alone.
The Cold Weather Payment, on the other hand, isn’t related to age. Instead, eligibility is based on the various types of benefits you might be getting. For full details of eligibility, check out the relevant section elsewhere in this guide.
What if I am refused the Cold Weather Payment? Can I challenge the decision?
If you disagree with the decision made on your Cold Weather Payment eligibility, you can ask for it to be looked at again. This is known as a “mandatory reconsideration”.
If you wish to do this, you will need to contact the benefits office that gave you the decision. You can do that by phone, letter, or by filling in and returning a form (usually found on the website of your benefits office).
If you still disagree with the outcome after a ‘mandatory reconsideration’, you can appeal to an independent tribunal. This can be done online, via the Department for Works and Pensions website.
Be aware that the time limits for appeals are strict. You’ll usually be given one month to dispute a decision, so it’s important to seek advice and act quickly.
Cold Weather Payments can be a godsend for the elderly and those on low incomes/benefits. We hope that after reading this guide, you feel more clued in on the subject.
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