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Cold Weather Payments - Help for UK Pensioners on Low Income

Author: DWP

Published: 2012-02-15 : (Rev. 2016-06-11)

Synopsis and Key Points:

As the Big Freeze continues UK pensioners who do not get Pension Credit could be missing out on Cold Weather Payments.

Main Digest

Over one million pensioners who may be entitled to Pension Credit should check if they are missing out on extra cash, Pensions Minister Steve Webb said.

Cold Weather Payment - Cold Weather Payments help people, who get certain income-related benefits, with their increased heating costs caused by periods of very cold weather during winter. During a very cold winter, the costs of heating can quickly add up. If you're receiving certain benefits, you may be able to get a Cold Weather Payment for each period of very cold weather in your area. A period of very cold weather is when the temperature is either: recorded as an average of zero degrees Celsius or below over seven consecutive days in a row, or forecast to be an average zero degrees Celsius or below over seven consecutive days in a row. You don't need to apply - if you can get a Cold Weather Payment, you'll be paid it automatically.

Up to £2.93 billion of Pension Credit goes unclaimed every year and as many as 1.6 million people could be entitled to this money.

What's more, if average temperatures are recorded as or forecast to be zero degrees Celsius or below over seven consecutive days, then people who get Pension Credit are automatically entitled to a Cold Weather Payment.

As the Big Freeze continues, pensioners who don't get Pension Credit could be missing out on Cold Weather Payments, which provide vital reassurance that they can afford to turn up the heating as temperatures plummet below zero. We have made over three million Cold Weather Payments so far this winter.

Pensions Minister Steve Webb said:

"I am very concerned that over a million pensioners could be missing out on Pension Credit cash of up to £137.35 a week. During this cold snap it's even more important that people claim so they don't miss out on Cold Weather Payments.

"If anyone thinks a family member, a friend or neighbor might be entitled to Pension Credit, I'd encourage them to ask them to get in touch and find out."

People can claim Pension Credit, as well as Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit, in one free phone call on 0800 99 1234 without the need for a signed form.

Pension Credit tops up your income to £137.35 a week for a single person, £209.79 for a couple. Those with savings or a work pension could still be eligible as could those who own their own homes.

Those with severe disability, caring responsibilities and certain housing costs may be entitled to extra amounts. They could also be entitled to Housing Benefit and Council Tax benefit.

The average weekly award of Pension Credit is £57 a week - that's almost £3,000 a year which could make a huge difference.

Around four million people are potentially eligible for Cold Weather Payments. Over two million of these are pensioners who receive Pension Credit. Payments are also made to disabled adults and children, and families with children under five who receive an income-related benefit.

Pension Credit can be backdated by up to three months and you will get your Cold Weather Payments for that period as well.

There is a range of help available for older people this winter. Most people over 60 will receive Winter Fuel Payments, which will be paid at the rate of £200 for households with someone who has reached women's State Pension age and is aged under 80 and £300 for households with someone aged 80 or over.

Pensioners can also receive help with heating and insulation costs through the Warm Front scheme, and over 600,000 pensioners on only the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit will also receive a rebate of £120 on their electricity bills this Winter through the Warm Home Discount Scheme.

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