Everything you need to know about the Winter Fuel Payment
12 November 2020 | Aimee Tweedale
Each year, the UK government gives pensioners a Winter Fuel Payment to help them keep warm during the coldest months. Also known as the winter fuel allowance, it’s a tax-free payment to help with heating costs.
The idea is that this lump sum offers some support during the season of rising utility bills – but it’s totally up to you how you use it. The money gets paid directly into your bank account, so you might want to put it towards food, warm clothes, or your electricity meter.
If you think you might be eligible for a Winter Fuel Payment, read on to find out more about how much you can get, and how to claim it.
What is the Winter Fuel Payment?
Basically, the Winter Fuel Payment is a yearly lump sum of money for UK pensioners, to help them during the cold weather. It’s similar to the Warm Home Discount, except instead of going straight to your energy supplier, it goes into your bank account.
You can usually get between £100 and £300, and you should get it automatically if you receive a state pension, or Pension Credit.
Am I eligible for a Winter Fuel Payment?
Whether or not you can claim a Winter Fuel Payment will depend on your age. Anyone over the state pension age gets Winter Fuel Payments, no matter how much money they already have.
To be eligible for the 2020-2021 payment, you must have been born on or before 5 October 1954. You also should have lived in the UK for at least one day during what’s called the ‘qualifying week’.
The qualifying week changes every year. For 2020-2021 payments, it was 21-27 September 2020.
Winter Fuel Payment eligibility also extends to people who both:
- Live in Switzerland or an EEA (European Economic Area) country
- And have a strong link to the UK – for example, you might still be able to claim if you’ve lived in the UK for most of your life, or your family live here
How much is the Winter Fuel Payment?
In general, you can expect to receive between £100 and £300.
How much your winter fuel allowance is will depend on your age. You’ll get more if you’re over 80.
It also depends on who you live with. You’ll get a higher payment if you live alone, and a lower payment if you live with other people who also qualify. If you live with someone who gets Pension Credit, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), or the income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), you won’t qualify for a winter fuel allowance.
If you qualify and you’re under 80, you’ll get:
- £200 if you live alone
- £100 if you live with someone else who also qualifies
- £100 if you live in a care home (and you don’t get certain benefits)
If you qualify and you’re 80 or over, you’ll get:
- £300 if you live alone
- £200 if you live with someone under 80 who also qualifies
- £150 if you live with someone 80 or over who also qualifies
- £150 if you live in a care home (and you don’t get certain benefits)1
Who doesn’t qualify for the winter fuel payment?
You won’t be able to claim Winter Fuel Payment if you’re too young to claim a state pension.
Even if you’re a pensioner, you won’t be eligible if, during the qualifying week, you:
- Lived in Cyprus, Gibraltar, France, Greece, Malta, Portugal, or Spain
- Were in prison for the whole of the week
- Were in hospital, and had been receiving free treatment for a year or more
- Needed permission to enter the UK
- Lived in a care home and received Pension Credit or certain other benefits
How will I get my Winter Fuel Payment?
If you qualify, usually your Winter Fuel Payment will automatically be sent to your bank account, or posted to you as a cheque. You should receive it the same way you normally receive your pension and other benefits.
If you don’t normally receive a state pension or benefits but you think you’re eligible for a Winter Fuel Payment, you’ll need to make a claim. More on how to do that below.
When is the Winter Fuel Payment made?
Usually, the money should appear in November or December. The government will send you a letter ahead of time, so you’ll know roughly when your Winter Fuel Payment date will be.
In most cases, you’ll receive it by 13 January. If you don’t, contact the Winter Fuel Payment Centre.
Will I get a Winter Fuel Payment automatically or do I need to claim it?
Good news! You’ll get your winter payment automatically if:
- You’re old enough to qualify
- And you’re getting the state pension or another social security benefit (but not Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction, Child Benefit or Universal Credit)
If you think you qualify, but you haven’t received your payment automatically, you’ll need to make a claim to the Department of Work and Pensions. This might be the case if you are over state pension age, but you don’t receive a state pension, or if you have received a Winter Fuel Payment in the past but now your circumstances have changed.
Whatever your reason, read on to find out how to make a claim.
How do I make a claim for Winter Fuel Payment?
If you’re not getting the fuel payment and you think you should be, you can make a claim via the phone or by post.
If you’d like to claim by post, you can download a form from the gov.uk website. To fill it in, you’ll need to know:
- Your National Insurance number
- Your bank or building society details
- Your BIC and IBAN numbers (if you don’t live in the UK)
- The date you got married or began a civil partnership
Once you’ve filled in your form, post it to:
Winter Fuel Payment Centre,
Mail Handling Site A,
You can also claim by calling the Winter Payment Centre on 0800 731 0160, Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 3.30pm.
What if I’m told I’m not eligible, but I think I should be?: How to appeal a benefits decision
If you make a claim but it’s rejected, don’t lose hope. You may have the right to appeal the decision.
- First, you can ask for a written statement of reasons that explains why you don’t qualify. This should be in your decision letter, but if it isn’t, get in touch with the Department of Work and Pensions to ask for further information. The contact details should be on your letter.
- If you’re still not satisfied with their reasons, you can ask for what’s called a ‘mandatory reconsideration’. This means they need to show evidence to support their decision. You have to request this within a month of getting your original decision.
- Finally, if you’d like to take it further, you can submit a formal appeal to the tribunal.
For more information, see the Turn2Us guide to challenging benefits decisions.
Can I claim my Winter Fuel Payment if I live abroad?
Yes, if you live in Switzerland or another European Economic Area (EEA) country and you have a genuine link with the UK – for example, if your family lives here.
You can follow the same instructions on how to claim above. Just remember to add ‘UK’ to the address when putting your claim form in the post.
I’ve been a pensioner for a while but never received the winter fuel payment – can I make a claim for the years I’ve missed?
Sadly not – make sure you fill in a form right away to claim it from now on.
Is there any other support for heating costs in winter?
There are some other schemes designed to help those struggling to pay their bills in winter.
Cold Weather Payment
You might be able to get a Cold Weather Payment if you’re eligible for Universal Credit, or other benefits.
Here’s how it works: between 1 November and 31 March, if the temperature in your local area drops to 0°C for seven days in a row, you can get a one-off payment of £25.
This should automatically be added to your other benefits.
Check if the temperature in your area meets the mark on the gov.uk website.
Warm Home Discount Scheme
The Warm Home Discount Scheme is a one-off payment that knocks a cool £140 (including VAT) off your energy bills. This is paid as credit into your electricity account.
It’s a compulsory scheme for the larger energy companies, and some of the smaller ones. Good news for OVO members: we’re one of the companies who offer this discount.
Each supplier has its own eligibility criteria, which are approved by Ofgem. Here at OVO, we give the discount to two groups of members:
- The Core Group: These are our members who, as of 5 July 2020, also receive the Guarantee Credit element of pension credit. If that’s you, you’ll receive this discount automatically. Look out for a letter from the DWP, which should arrive by December 2020.
- The Broader Group: The Broader Group is made up of members who receive benefits like Income Support or Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance. We give out discounts to members in this group on a first-come, first-served basis. Find out more about how to apply here.
We’re here to help, too
We might be able to give you a one-off payment to help you manage your bills if you’re in debt and you earn under £16,190.
If you’re struggling this winter, Step Change is a registered charity that offers free, professional advice on how to handle debt. You could try their online Debt Remedy Tool, or call them on 0800 138 1111 (Monday to Friday 8am-8pm and Saturday 8am-4pm).
Save money by using less energy...
If you want to shave a bit of money off those high winter heating costs, it’s a good idea to make sure your home is energy-efficient.
For example, a habit as small as remembering to turn your TV off at the wall – instead of leaving it on standby – could save you around £35 a year2.
Here are ten ways to become more energy-efficient:
- When you boil a kettle, only use as much water as you need
- Turn appliances off at the wall – don’t leave them on standby
- Use energy-saving light bulbs
- Defrost your freezer regularly (for more, see our guide on how to save energy in the kitchen!)
- Fill that cavity! Cavity wall insulation can cut around £115 off your heating bill each year
- Get draught excluders for outside doors, windows and letterboxes – and read our guide to energy-efficient windows and doors
- Replace all your old windows with double glazing – it could save you around £135 each year
- If your boiler’s more than 15 years old, look into replacing it with a new A-rated condensing boiler
- Slip an insulating jacket on your hot water tank – you could save around £35 a year
- When using your washing machine, never set it higher than 30˚
See our full energy saving guide for more details.
... Or by switching your energy supplier
No matter which energy company you’re currently with, it’s always worth checking the market regularly to see if you could save money by switching.
At OVO, we know that price matters – that’s why we keep our costs down, to help you save. You'll also get our 3% OVO interest reward on any credit in your account.
See how your current supplier matches up next to our range of energy plans – you can compare energy prices for our electricity, gas and dual fuel plan. They’re based on a medium user, paying by Direct Debit, averaged across all UK regions. It’s the quick and easy way to compare utility prices.
Check our range of energy plans and see how much you could save now.
Quickly find out if you could save on your energy bills with OVO Energy by getting a quote here.
Sources and references:
Our website offers information about energy-efficiency solutions, but not personal advice.It is intended to provide information and guidance only. You assume responsibility of any decisions made or actions taken based on the information provided.