With cold winter weather hitting much of the UK, a charity is urging people to check their eligibility for the Winter Fuel Payment scheme now.
Long periods of cold weather mean households often use more energy to heat their homes, which can cause heating bills to spike.
But the government’s Winter Fuel Payment scheme offers older people a one-off payment of between £100 and £300 – depending on your circumstances - to help with their energy bills.
It’s available to most people born on or before 5 May 1953 who are in receipt of the state pension or another social security benefit, and is typically paid automatically by 31 December – so you should have received your payment for 2016/17 by now.
However, people who have never claimed before should contact the Winter Fuel Payment Centre on 03459 151 515. If you are of a qualifying age and do not receive a social security benefit (or only receive housing benefit, council tax reduction or child benefit), you also need to make a claim using the number listed above.
Claims for this winter must be received by 31 March 2017.
Those whose circumstances have changed since last year or those who have not received their 2016/17 payment (but have received it in previous years), need to contact the organisation that pays them their benefits.
Caroline Abrahams, charity director of Age UK, says: “Most people born before 6 May 1953 are entitled to the tax free Winter Fuel Payment in 2016-17 to help with heating costs.
“People who have previously claimed or who receive certain benefits should have automatically received their payment by 31 December, so it’s important to make sure you check whether you’ve received your payment.”
Is any other help available to reduce energy bills?
Other government schemes available to help with energy costs over winter include the Cold Weather Payment. This offers a £25 bonus to people on benefits when weather in their local area falls below zero for seven consecutive days.
The Warm Home Discount Scheme also offers people on low incomes or who receive the guarantee credit part of Pension Credit to get up to £140 off their electricity bills. Customers are advised to check their eligibility with their energy supplier.