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Warm Home Discount and Winter Fuel Payments explained

Written by: Paloma Kubiak
As parts of the UK have been sprinkled with snow and Southerners are feeling the Arctic blasts, if you’re struggling to keep warm and pay your bills, there are schemes to help.

The Warm Home Discount

The Warm Home Discount is a one-off £140 electricity rebate which is usually paid between September and March each year based on whether you’re a customer of a participating supplier and/or you’re on certain benefits.

To qualify for the discount, on 9 July 2017, you need to have met the following criteria:

  • your electricity supplier was part of the Warm Home Discount scheme (it’s those that have more than 250,000 customers, though a handful of smaller suppliers have voluntarily signed up)
  • your name (or your partner’s) was on the bill
  • you were getting the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit, even if you get Savings Credit as well (this group s called the ‘core’ group).

You may also qualify if you’re on a low income, or you get certain means-tested benefits, and your supplier is part of the scheme (this group is called the ‘broader’ group). However, this group needs to stick with the supplier until it’s paid.

It’s offered on a ‘first-come, first-served basis’ and you should have received a letter by 30 November 2017 telling you how to get the discount if you qualify. If you have not received the letter, contact the Warm Home Discount team on 0345 603 9439 by 31 January 2018 to confirm your details. Even if you’ve previously received the WHD, you’ll need to re-apply this year.

The money isn’t paid to you, it’s a one-off discount on your electricity bill, regardless of how you pay which will be supplied to your bill by the end of March 2018.

If you pay by direct debit or credit, the rebate is taken directly off your bill. If you’re on a prepayment meter, you could receive a top up or voucher for your key or card and if you’ve a smart meter, it’s credited directly.

The Winter Fuel Payment

This scheme provides help with heating costs for those born on or before 5 August 1953 who lived in the UK for at least one day during the qualifying week of 18-24 September 2017.

You could receive between £100 and £300 depending on your date of birth and your circumstances, such as whether you live alone or with someone else who qualifies, whether you or your partner are on certain benefits such as pension credit, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance or income support.

It has had its fair share of controversy with pensioners living abroad still eligible to receive it. But it’s not extended to those living in Cyprus, France, Gibraltar, Greece, Malta, Portugal or Spain as the average winter temperature is higher than the warmest region in the UK.

If you didn’t live in the UK during this time, you may still be able to get the Winter Fuel Payment if you live in Switzerland or a EEA country or if you can prove you lived or worked in the UK for most of your life.

You won’t qualify in the following circumstances:

  • If you were in prison between 18-24 September 2017
  • are in hospital getting free treatment for more than a year
  • need permission to enter the UK and your granted leave states you can’t claim public funds
  • have lived in a care home for the whole time between 26 June and 18 September 2017, and got Pension Credit, Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or income-related Employment and Support Allowance.

The money you’ll receive is tax-free and most payments are made automatically between November and December to your account. But if you don’t receive it by 15 January 2018, you should call your benefits office (details will be on the letter).

Some people will need to actively chase the money, usually those who don’t get benefits or a State Pension, or you only get Housing Benefits, Council Tax Reduction, Child Benefit or Universal Credit. You can do this by calling 0345 915 1515.

The final deadline to claim is 31 March 2018 for winter 2017/18.

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