High energy bills are proving financially crippling for many households, so it’s essential to claim any support you might be eligible for.

Depending on your age and circumstances, you may qualify for help with your heating costs from a range of different sources. Here’s what you need to know.

Government support

In his Autumn Budget, the Chancellor announced cost of living payments that will be paid from spring 2023 to those struggling to meet costs. This includes payments of £900 for those on means-tested benefits, £300 to pensioner households and £150 to people on disability benefits.

The £900 government support package is being paid in three separate instalments, with the second £300 payment paid automatically to those entitled to the benefit from the end of October. The first instalment was paid from 25 April, and the final instalment will be paid next spring. Read more in our article Date of second cost of living payment announced.

Winter Fuel Payment

If you were born on or before 25 September 1957 then you may be entitled to a tax-free payment of between £250 and £600 to help you pay your heating bills and stay warm during winter. The amount of Winter Fuel Payment that you receive will depend on how old you are and who else you live with.

Here’s how much you might get if you’re eligible:

 Born between 25 September 1943 and 24 September 1957Born on or before 25 September 1943
You qualify and live alone (or none of the people you live with qualify)£500£600
You qualify and live with someone under 80 who also qualifies£250£350
You qualify and live with someone 80 or over who also qualifies£250£300
You qualify, live in a care home and do not get certain benefits£250£300

Source: Gov.uk

These values include a ‘Pensioner Cost of Living Payment’ which is an additional payment of between £150 and £300 to help cover the cost of your energy bills over winter 2023/24. This cost of living payment will be in addition to any other cost of living payment you’re entitled to, such as low income or tax credits or disability Cost of Living Payments.

If you receive any of the following benefits, the amount you receive may be different:

  • State Pension
  • Pension Credit
  • Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
 Born between 25 September 1943 and 24 September 1957Born on or before 25 September 1943
You qualify, get one of the benefits and live alone (or none of the people you live with qualify)£500£600
You qualify and live with a partner who qualifies, and either of you gets one of the benefits£500 – only one of you will get the payment£600 – only one of you will get the payment
You qualify and live with someone (not your partner) who qualifies, and either of you gets one of the benefits£500 – you’ll both get the payment£600 – you’ll both get the payment
You qualify, live in a care home and get one of the benefitsNilNil

Those who have received payment in previous years should automatically receive it without having to claim again.

If you meet the age and residence criteria then you should see the payments in November or December, and at the very latest by January 2024:

If you haven’t, you will need to claim the Winter Fuel payment manually by phone or by post to ensure you receive it.

The easiest way to make a claim for the winter fuel payment if you’ve never claimed before is to call the Winter Fuel Payment Centre on 0800 731 0160 (call charges may apply). You can claim by phone from October 4 2023.

If you want to apply by post, you’ll need to print off a claim form here and send it to:

Winter Fuel Payment Centre
Mail Handling Site A
WV98 1LR

You can claim by post from September 18 2023.

The deadline for claiming the Winter Fuel Allowance is 31 March, 2024.

Cold Weather Payment

Cold Weather Payments of £25 are made when your local temperature is recorded as (or forecast to be), an average of zero degrees celsius or below for at least seven consecutive days between 1 November and 31 March every year,

If you are already receiving any other low-income benefits (i.e. Pension Credit) then you should be eligible to receive it – and if you are, you should receive it automatically, so there’s no need to apply.

Warm Homes Discount Scheme

The Warm Homes Discount Scheme will reopen again in October 2023. This is a one-off £150 discount on your energy bill, paid directly to your provider between October and March.

You may be eligible if you:

  • Are receiving the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit and your electricity supplier is part of the Warm Homes Discount scheme. In this case, you should get £150 automatically deducted from your bill between October and March.
  • Are on a low income, already receive certain means-tested benefits and your electricity supplier is part of the Warm Homes Discount scheme. Most eligible households will get a discount automatically, but if this doesn’t happen and you think you might be eligible, contact your electricity supplier and they will be able to give you more details and confirm if you are eligible.
  • Are on a pre-pay or pay as you go electric meter. You will need to speak to your electricity provider to find out how to activate your deduction.

An important note about switching electricity suppliers

If you claim under the Warm Homes Discount scheme and decide to switch electricity suppliers, then it’s important to make sure that your new provider belongs to the Warm Homes Discount Scheme – otherwise you may not be able to claim the discount any more. Most energy suppliers are signed up to the scheme, but not all, so it’s important to check.

To check which energy suppliers offer the discount, you can visit GOV.UK.

Insulation and heating schemes

If your home is poorly insulated or doesn’t have a working central heating system, there may be improvements that can be made to your home via insulation and heating schemes to make it more energy efficient.

You can use the links below to find out more about schemes that may be available to you depending on where you live:

You can also find tips on how to reduce your energy bills in our article ‘Save money on your energy bills’

If you think you’re going to struggle to pay your energy bills over the next few months, contact your energy provider and let them know you’re having financial problems. They might be able to defer your payments temporarily, or arrange a more affordable repayment plan so that you pay back what you owe over a longer period.

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