The winter fuel payment, helping pensioners keep warm

winter fuel allowance

This guide is intended to provide general guidance only. It is not intended to give you advice on your personal financial circumstances. You should seek independent professional advice if you’re unsure about anything mentioned in this guide or what choices to make.

Each year, the government provides a winter fuel payment (also known as the winter fuel allowance) to help older people pay their energy bills. It’s a tax-free heating allowance, designed to help vulnerable people like pensioners by giving them extra money towards their heating bills.

It’s intended to help them stay warm over the winter by making their fuel costs more affordable. The money is paid directly into their bank account, so in fact there’s nothing to stop them spending it on food, warm clothing or anything else that could help them get through the cold weather.

How old do you have to be to qualify for a winter fuel allowance?

You must be old enough to qualify for a state pension during the ‘qualifying week’ in the autumn before you get the payment. Because the pensionable age is changing on a sliding scale each year, the winter fuel payment eligibility age also changes annually.

Here are a few examples:

  • A woman born on 1 January 1953 will reach state pension age at 62 years, 8 months and 5 days (i.e. on 6 September 2015)
  • A man born on 1 January 1954 will reach state pension age at 65 years, 2 months and 5 days (i.e. on 6 March 2019)
  • From 2020 onwards, everyone will get it from the age of 66

If you’re not sure when you’ll reach state pension age, you can use this online calculator:

When the government announces details of this year’s fuel allowance, it will give a date of birth related to the current state pension age – you need to have been born before that date to qualify.

Visit this page for details of this year’s qualifying birth date.

Who doesn’t qualify for the winter fuel payment?

Anyone who’s too young to get a state pension.

Even if you’re a pensioner, you won’t qualify for any winter fuel payments if, during the ‘qualifying week’:

  • You’re living outside the UK – unless it’s a European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland and you have a genuine link with the UK
  • You’ve been in hospital, getting free in-patient treatment, for 52 weeks or longer
  • You’re living in a care home or independent hospital
  • You’re in prison
  • You need permission to enter the UK and don’t qualify for help from the Department for Work and Pensions

How much winter fuel allowance will I receive?

The winter fuel allowance 2015 will be between £100 and £300.

The actual amount will depend on your age (for example, if you’re over 80, you get a higher payment) and whether you live alone or with other people who do or don’t qualify.

You usually get a winter fuel payment automatically if you get the State Pension or another social security benefit (not Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction, Child Benefit or Universal Credit).

However, 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.

It will affect the amount you receive if you live with someone else of pensionable age who qualifies for the winter fuel payment, but this also depends on your own age. The amount you get will depend on whether you’re both under 80, both over or one of each.

If you qualify but don’t get paid automatically, you’ll need to make a claim.

Visit this page for a complete list of who can or can’t get the winter fuel payment.

When will I receive my winter winter fuel payment ?

Sometime between November and December – definitely before Christmas.

What is the ‘qualifying week’?

It’s a set week, usually in September, that the government uses as a deadline for deciding whether or not people are eligible for the winter fuel payment. You can get the payment if you’ve reached the qualifying age and meet the other criteria during that week.

When this week’s qualifying week has been chosen, you’ll find it here:

Will I get a winter fuel payment automatically or do I need to claim it?

You’ll get it 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’re not getting a pension or social security benefit, you’re probably not in the system and you’ll need to claim your winter fuel payment. You may also need to make a claim if you’ve received the payment in the past but your circumstances have changed.

How do I make a claim?

Just download a form from or call the Payment Centre on 08459 15 15 15 between 8am and 6pm, Monday to Friday, and ask them to send you one. To complete the form, you’ll need to know:

  • Your National Insurance number
  • Your bank or building society details
  • If you’re married or in a civil partnership, and the date it started

Once you’ve filled in your form, post it to: 

Winter Fuel Payment Centre,
Mail Handling Site A,
WV98 1LR

How will I get my winter payment?

It can be paid straight into your bank account or sent to you by cheque. If you’re already getting a state pension or other benefits, it will be paid in the same way. You’ll receive a letter telling you how much you’re getting and roughly when it will arrive - which will probably be some time between November and December.

Can I claim my winter allowance it if I live abroad?

Only if you live in another European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland and you have a genuine link with the UK.

I’ve been a pensioner for a while but I’ve never received the winter 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.

How else can I cut my energy costs?

A. Use less energy

The best way to use less energy and reduce your bills is to make sure your home and all your electrical appliances are working as efficiently as possible.

If you insulate your roof and walls, improve your heating system and generally be quite careful, you can save around £300 a year. You’ll also cut your home’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by around 1.5 tonnes – so you’re helping the planet, too.

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
  • Fill that cavity! Cavity wall insulation can cut around £115 off your heating bill each yearGet draught excluders for outside doors, windows and letterboxes
  • 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.

B. Switch providers

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 provider matches up next to our range of energy plans – you can compare energy prices for our electricity, gas and dual fuel plans 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.

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