The winter fuel allowance payment, or heating allowance, is up to £300 of tax-free assistance for those who need help paying their energy bills, and is paid out between November and December. Qualification and how much you get depends on your age and circumstances.
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The Winter Fuel Payment, which is also referred to as the winter fuel allowance or heating allowance , is an annual tax-free payment of between £100 and £300 which helps people born on or before 5 July 1953 to pay for their heating in the winter.
These payments shouldn't be confused with cold weather payments — which you could receive for spells of particularly cold weather on a weekly basis — or with the Warm Home Discount, which is a rebate applied to electricity bills.
Do I qualify for the Winter Fuel Payment?
You could qualify for the Winter Fuel Payment for 2015-2016 season if you:
- Were born on or before or on 5 January 1953
- You'll be living in the UK from Sept 21-27 2015
Whether you qualify also depends on a few qualifying factors. You won't qualify for the Winter Fuel Payment if, for the week of 21-27 of September 2015:
- you were in hospital getting free treatment for more than 52 weeks;
- you were in prison;
- you were subject to immigration control and did not qualify from help from the Department for Work and Pensions;
- you lived in a care home or independent hospital;
- lived in Cyprus, Spain, Malta, France, Greece, Gibraltar or Portugal.
How much winter fuel allowance will I receive?
|Situation||Born on or before 5 July 1953||Aged 80 or over in the qualifying week|
|You live alone||£200||£300|
|You are the only person in the household who qualifies||£200||£300|
|You live with someone else who qualifies and is under 80||£100||£200|
|You live with someone else who qualifies and is over 80||£100||£150|
|You get Pension Credit, income-based Jobseeker's Allowance or income related Employment and Support Allowance.||£200||£300|
|You get Pension Credit, income-based Jobseeker's Allowance or income related Employment and Support Allowance and you live with another qualifying person in the household who qualifies for Winter Fuel Payment. (If someone else in the household is eligible, but not on the above benefits, and not your partner/civil partner they'll get a shared payment.)||£200||£300|
|You qualify for the Winter Fuel Payment and live with someone who gets Pension Credit, income-based Jobseeker's Allowance or income related Employment and Support Allowance. (If they are your partner/civil partner, they will get the payment for you.)||£0||£0|
|You qualify for the Winter Fuel Payment and live with someone who gets Pension Credit, income-based Jobseeker's Allowance or income related Employment and Support Allowance. (If they are not your partner/civil partner you will get a shared payment.)||£100||£150|
|If both of the following apply: ||£100||£150|
|If both the following apply: ||You don't qualify||You don't qualify|
Can a couple both receive the Winter Fuel Payment?
If your partner gets a Job Seeker's Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance or Pension Credit, the Winter Fuel Payment will be paid to your household.
Otherwise, if you share your home with another qualifying person, you will each get a shared payment depending on your situation.
Do I need to claim my winter fuel allowance or will I be paid automatically?
You'll need to claim your Winter Fuel Payment if you aren't receiving at least one of the following benefits during the week of 21-27 September 2015:
- State Pension
- Employment and Support Allowance
- Income Support
- Jobseeker's Allowance
- Pension Credit
- Attendance Allowance
- Bereavement Benefit
- Carer's Allowance
- Disability Living Allowance
- Graduated Retirement Benefit
- Incapacity Benefit
- Industrial Injuries Benefits
- Severe Disablement Allowance
- War Pension
- Widow's Benefit
If you're getting Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit or Child Benefit only, you'll need to put in a claim to get winter fuel allowance.
You'll also need to claim if you have received the Winter Fuel Payment before but your circumstances have changed.
How do I apply for winter fuel allowance?
To apply, you will need to download an application form from the Direct Gov website, or get a claim form sent to you by calling the Winter Fuel Payment Helpline on 03459 15 15 15.
Return your completed application form to:
Winter Fuel Payment Team
Department for Work and Pensions
PO Box 10142
The Winter Fuel Payment won't affect your other benefits and you won't have to pay Income Tax on it.
What if my situation changes, like moving house?
You never need to claim winter fuel allowance more than once. Your payments will be given to you every year automatically. If you move house, move overseas, or have someone move in with you, give the Winter Fuel Payment helpline a ring on 03459 15 15 15.
How is the Winter Fuel Payment paid?
The Winter Fuel Payment is paid into your bank account or by cheque - it's up to you.
If you're receiving benefits you'll get your Winter Fuel Payment in the same way.
If you're part of a couple, and one or both of you are getting:
- Pension Credit
- income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
- income-related Employment and Support Allowance
You must get your claims form to the Winter Fuel Payment team before 31 March 2015 to ensure you receive your payments.
Can I claim winter fuel allowance for past winters?
If you are eligible, you can claim Winter Fuel Payments retrospectively for 1997/98 and 1999/2000. You can't make claims for past winters from 2000/2001 and onwards.
You'll need to download a claims form from DirectGov and return it to:
Is any other help available for my gas and electricity bills?
If you don't qualify for benefits like winter fuel payment, cold weather payment or warm home discount, you can at least ensure you are on the cheapest energy deal.
It takes minutes to run a quick comparison of your current plan. All you need is your energy bill. You can compare online or call 0333 321 6808.