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All about the Winter Fuel Payment Scheme

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It probably doesn’t feel like it right now as we come out of a late summer, but the cold can get extremely bitter during the winter months. For those of us who are a bit more frail and vulnerable, it’s important to stay as warm as possible at home. However, the cost of fuel can often feel like a burden.

It’s estimated that lower temperatures and associated illnesses account for over 200 deaths in the UK each winter. These are often deaths that are entirely preventable by simply keeping warm at home. However this means that gas and electricity usage goes up considerably… and so do the bills.

Since energy tariffs can often vary from one provider to another, so there’s always a chance you could reduce your bills by switching. But for many older people, one of the more effective solutions to cutting financial woes during the winter is the government’s Winter Fuel Payment Scheme.

The scheme aims to help older people with their heating bills by offering a grant to over 65s who are widely considered to be most as risk of falling ill during the colder months. While the payment isn’t guaranteed to cover your total energy usage over the winter, it certainly offers a helpful contribution towards those daunting bills.

The amount you can receive is means tested, but a general rule of thumb is that those under 80 can claim £200 towards their fuel, whilst over 80s could receive £300. Those receiving a State Pension or Pension Credit should automatically receive the Winter Fuel Payment. Any over 65s who don’t get an automatic payment can make a claim before 31st March 2020.

Claiming Winter Fuel Payments

Eligibility for winter 2019/20 is dependent on two pieces of criteria: you qualify for fuel payments if you were born on or before 5th April 1954 and as long as you have lived in the UK during the ‘qualifying week’ – 18th-24th September 2019.

If it’s your first year qualifying for the scheme, or if you meet the above criteria and just haven’t claimed before, you’ll need to contact the Winter Fuel Payments Centre in the first instance. Once you’ve applied, you should receive payments automatically each year, providing your circumstances don’t change.

You will need to have a few pieces of information handy before you get in touch. This includes your National Insurance number and your bank or building society details. You can claim over the phone, via post or get in touch with the Winter Fuel Payment Centre through an online form. Full details are available from the Government’s official website here.