The Winter Fuel Payment: what is it and who can claim it?

What is the Winter Fuel Payment and who can get it? We explain everything you need to know

Senior couple using laptop and discussing bills
(Image credit: Getty images)

Over 11 million households receive a Winter Fuel Payment each year, according to the government, which aims to help older people with heating costs. 

The rising cost of living has got households on a mission to keep energy costs low by checking in if they’re eligible for government grants for better insulation or trying quick hacks like putting cling film on the windows. 

So, with that in mind and high energy bills, it’s worth checking if you’re eligible to make a claim.

What is the Winter Fuel Payment?

It’s a flat annual payment to help people of state pension age with the cost of their Winter heating bills and worth up to £300 per household. 

Those eligible should receive payment automatically from the Department for Work and Pensions during November and December.

“The Winter Fuel Payment gets paid to those who are getting the state pension, and it’s not means tested, which means everyone gets it”, says Laura Suter, head of personal finance at AJ Bell. 

Payments are tax free, won’t affect other benefits you receive, and in most cases, get paid directly to your bank or building society account automatically, unless you have moved abroad.

How much you get depends on your specific circumstances, including your age, whether you live alone, or in a care home.

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Who can get the Winter Fuel Payment?

You can get the Winter Fuel Payment for Winter 2022/23 providing you were born on, or before, 26 September 1955, and lived in the UK for at least one day during a specific week. This is known as the ‘qualifying’ week, and  was 20th – 26th September 2021.

This is known as the ‘qualifying’ week which is between 19 and 25 September 2022.

However it’s worth knowing the “dates of the qualifying week and the age cut off date vary slightly from one year to the next”, says Sarah Pennells, consumer finance specialist at Royal London.

Anyone not living in the UK during the ‘qualifying’ week, may still get the Winter Fuel Payment, providing they were living in Switzerland or an European Economic Area country, (this includes EU countries along with Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway), and have links within the UK, like having lived and worked here, or have family here.

There are however some exceptions. As payments are designed to help with heating costs, if you live in Cyprus, France, Gibraltar, Greece, Malta, Portugal or Spain, you won’t get the payment. This is due to the fact it’s warmer in these countries, with an average winter temperature higher than the UK.

While in most cases, Winter Fuel Payments are made automatically, in some cases, you may need to apply. 

This includes if you have never had a Winter Fuel Payment before, and get state pension, but live in Switzerland or another European Economic Area (EEA) country, in which case you should make a claim by phone or post. 

Worth knowing too, that if you have ‘deferred’ your state pension, (decided to put off taking it until a later date), you’ll also need to apply, as the Winter Fuel Payment won’t be made automatically.  

If you live in the UK you’ll need the form for UK residents claiming for the first time and if you live abroad it’s a different one

Payments for Winter 2022/23 will start being paid to those eligible from November 2022.

You can check if you are eligible for the Winter Fuel payment on GOV.UK (search for cost of living payment).

How much is the Winter Fuel Payment worth?

The Winter Fuel Payment is worth between £250 and £600 per household, and payments are set at fixed levels: £250, £300, £350 £500 or £600. 

How much you get depends on your age and circumstances.

If you are 80 years or over and live alone, or with people who don’t qualify for the payment, you get £600. If the same scenario applies but you are aged between 66 to 80 years, then you are eligible for £500.

If you claim one of the following benefits: Pension Credit, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or Income Support, and you live with someone who claims one of them, those over 80s get 3600 (but only one of you will get the payment), and if you are aged between 66 and 80, one of you will get £500.

If the same situation arises above but the person you are living with is NOT your partner, then both over 80s and those between 66 and 80 will receive the payment each. 

Over 80s who qualify and live with someone else aged under 80 years who qualifies get £300, and those aged between 66 and 80 years get £250. 

If you are in the other scenario- over 80 and live with someone over the age of 80 who qualifies, get £300 and if you are under 80 you get £250.

If you think you’re due a Winter Fuel Payment and not had one contact the Winter Fuel Payment Centre or call the helpline on 0800 731 0160.

Sue Hayward

Sue Hayward is a personal finance and consumer journalist, broadcaster and author who regularly chats on TV and Radio on ways to get more power for your pound.  Sue’s written for a wide range of publications including the Guardian, i Paper, Good Housekeeping, Lovemoney and My Weekly. Cats, cheese and travel are Sue’s passions away from her desk!

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