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The Cold Weather Payment: what it is and how much you can claim

Want to learn more about how the Cold Weather Payment works, who can benefit, and how to claim? Here’s everything you need to know.

What is a Cold Weather Payment?

The Cold Weather Payment is a government grant designed to help cover the cost of higher heating during periods of – you guessed it, cold weather!

The payment’s available if you’re eligible for Universal Credit, or other benefits.

Here’s how it works. Between 1 November and 31 March every year, if the temperature in your local area drops to, or below, 0°C for 7 days in a row – you can get a payment of £25 for each 7-day period. 

What’s meant by a period of cold weather?

In this instance, “cold weather” means when the temperature drops below freezing, for longer than a week. This temperature needs to be recorded by the weather station nearest to your postcode.

It’s easy to check whether that’s happened. Simply enter your postcode on the gov.uk website for Cold Weather Payments, and you’ll be able to see if and when the temperature’s hit zero for 7 days or more.

Eligibility criteria: am I eligible for the Cold Weather Payment?

You’ll likely be eligible for Cold Weather Payments if you’re getting:

  • Pension Credit

  • Income Support

  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance

  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance

  • Universal Credit

  • Support for Mortgage Interest

Here are full eligibility details for each benefit:

Pension Credit

You’ll usually get Cold Weather Payments if you get Pension Credit.

Income Support and income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance

You’ll usually get Cold Weather Payments if you get Income Support or income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, and have any of the following:

  • A disability or pensioner premium

  • A child who’s disabled

  • Child Tax Credit that includes a disability or severe disability element

  • A child under 5 living with you

Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

You’ll usually get Cold Weather Payments if you get income-related ESA, and you’re in a work-related activity group or support group. 

If you’re not in either group, you might also get Cold Weather Payments if you have any of the following:

  • A severe or enhanced disability premium

  • A pensioner premium

  • A child who’s disabled

  • Child Tax Credit that includes a disability or severe disability element

  • A child under 5 living with you

Universal Credit

You’ll usually get Cold Weather Payments if you get Universal Credit, and you’re not employed or self-employed. One of the following must also apply:

  • You have a health condition or disability, and have limited capability for work (with or without work-related activity)

  • You have a baby, or a child under 5 at home.

  • You have a disabled child amount in your claim, whether you’re employed or not.

You’ll also get it if you receive Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or income-related Employment and Support Allowance, and:

  • You’ve had a baby.

  • You have a child under the age of 5 living with you.

You need to tell Jobcentre Plus. You won’t automatically get Cold Weather Payments if you don’t.

Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI)

You’ll usually get Cold Weather Payments if you get Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI).

How much is the Cold Weather Payment?

You’ll get £25 for each 7-day period of very cold weather between 1 November and 31 March every year.

The process: how can you claim a Cold Weather Payment?

It couldn’t be simpler. In fact, you don’t even need to apply. If you’re eligible to get a Cold Weather Payment, it’s paid automatically.

You’ll be paid after each 7-day period of cold weather – and you should get your payment within 14 working days. The payment is normally paid into the same bank or building society account as your benefit payments.

Will the Cold Weather Payment affect other benefits? 

Definitely not. Cold Weather Payments don’t affect your other benefits in any way.

When’s the next Cold Weather Payment scheme?

The Cold Weather Payment scheme runs between 1 November and 31 March of every year. To find out more, visit the government website.

How can you challenge a Cold Weather Payment decision?

If you disagree with the decision made on your Cold Weather Payment eligibility, you can ask for it to be looked at again. This is known as a “mandatory reconsideration”. To do that, contact the benefits office that gave you the decision. You can do that by phone, letter, or by filling in and returning a form (usually found on the website of your benefits office).

If you still disagree with the outcome of that decision, you can then appeal to an independent tribunal. You can do this online, via the DWP website.

Be aware that the time limits for appeals are strict. You’ll usually be given one month to dispute a decision, so it’s important to seek advice and act quickly.

What’s the difference between the Cold Weather Payment and the Winter Fuel Payment? 

The Winter Fuel Payment is a different benefit that’s paid out to pensioners.

All 11.4 million pensioners receive The Winter Fuel Payment (which is between £100 and £300), regardless of weather conditions. It’s calculated according to age, and whether you live alone.

On the other hand, the Cold Weather Payment isn’t related to age. Instead, eligibility is based on the various types of benefits you might be getting (see above).

Other questions about the Cold Weather Payment

Are Cold Weather Payments taxable? 

Good news! Cold Weather Payments are a non-taxable benefit. It means that if you’re eligible, you’ll be able to keep the full amount when it’s paid to you.

Am I due another Cold Weather Payment?

The best way to find this out is to enter your postcode on the gov.uk website. That’s where you’ll be able to see whether, and when, you’ve qualified for a Cold Weather Payment.

What can I do if I don’t get my Cold Weather Payment?

If you think you should’ve got a Cold Weather Payment but didn't, you’d normally need to contact your pension centre, or Jobcentre Plus office

If you get Universal Credit, contact the Universal Credit helpline on: 

  • Tel: 0800 328 5644

  • Welsh language: 0800 328 1744

  • Relay UK (if you can’t hear or speak on the phone): 18001 then 0800 328 5644

  • Textphone: 0800 328 1344

  • Lines open Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

  • Find out about call charges

And if you’re in Northern Ireland, contact the Northern Ireland Pension Centre.

Bring the cost of your winter bills down, by switching to OVO

If you’re not already with us, find out how much you could save by choosing OVO for your energy supply. Switch, and you could lower your carbon footprint, help fight the climate crisis, and enjoy competitively-priced green energy. And you’ll also get:

  • 100% renewable electricity as standard1

  • A tree planted in your name every single year you’re with us2

  • 3-5% Interest Rewards when your account has a positive balance3

  • An award-winning smart meter experience (Uswitch 2020)

  • A £50 gift card every time you introduce a friend

  • A 5-star rating on Trustpilot by over 30,000 of our members

Get a quote  

 

Further information

Find out more about help with your bills this winter, in our guide to debt and energy assistance.

Learn some genius ideas to help you save money on bills, with 120 ways to save energy around the home.

Learn 8 simple steps to reducing your electric and gas bills.

Find out more about heating and energy grants for your home.

Check out some easy ways to reduce your carbon footprint.

And find out exactly why us Brits are so obsessed with the weather in our blog.

 

Sources and references

1.  The renewable electricity we sell is backed by renewable certificates (Renewable Energy Guarantee of Origin certificates (REGOs)). See here for details on REGO certificates and how these work.

2.  Each year, OVO plants 1 tree for every member in partnership with the Woodland Trust. Trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, so tree-planting helps to slow down climate change.

3.  Interest Rewards are paid on positive balances of customers paying by monthly Direct Debit. It is calculated at 3% in your first year, 4% in your second year and 5% in your third year (and every year thereafter) if you pay by Direct Debit.

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