A perfect storm of energy market issues are leading to concerns of a difficult winter ahead for the UK.
The current gas shortage, combined with electricity and nuclear power supply issues, are set to see UK households paying higher costs for their energy from October, with the UK energy price cap rising to £1,277 this autumn.
As the chillier autumn climates set in and a number of UK energy suppliers cease trading due to skyrocketing wholesale gas prices, many Brits will be looking to the winter fuel allowance for assistance with paying their heating bills this year.
But what is the winter fuel allowance and who can get it?
Here’s everything you need to know about the winter fuel scheme, who is eligible – and how it works in Scotland.
What is the winter fuel allowance?
The Winter fuel payment scheme was established in 1997 by the Labour UK Government’s Chancellor Gordon Brown as part of the government’s efforts to combat fuel poverty for British pensioners.
Winter fuel allowances provide a layer of security for older people by contributing to the cost of heating homes during the cold British winters, with a lump sum paid to pensioners to put toward fuel bills.
The allowance is designed to help older people who are particularly affected by the winter period and can struggle to meet the costs of heating their home with pensions and fixed incomes.
Who is eligible for the winter fuel allowance?
Those born on or before 26 September 1955 are eligible for the UK Government’s fuel allowance.
If you fall into this category, you will be eligible for a payment ranging between £100 to £300 from the government when you make a claim.
If you were born between 27 September 1941 and 26 September 1955, live alone or have no one else who qualifies living with you, you will be entitled to £200 – or £300 in winter fuel payment if born on or before 26 September 1941.
If you qualify and live with someone under 80 who also qualifies, 80 or over who also qualifies, or if you live in a care home and do not receive benefits, you will receive £100 if born between 27 September 1941 and 26 September 1955.
How can I make a winter fuel allowance claim?
If claiming for the first time, this can be done by phone or post, with anyone making a claim for the first time needing to call the Winter Fuel Payment Centre on 0800 731 0160 – or +44 (0)191 218 7777 if you are phoning from abroad.
You will need to know:
- your National Insurance number
- your bank or building society details
- your BIC and IBAN numbers if you live in an EEA country or Switzerland
- the date you were married or entered into a civil partnership (if applicable)
You can find out more about making a winter fuel allowance claim on the UK Government’s website.
Anyone who meets the above eligibility requirement and also receives a state pension or another form of social security benefits such as housing benefit, council tax reduction, child benefit or universal credit will receive a winter fuel payment automatically.
If you have previously made a winter fuel payment claim, you do not need to make another one unless your circumstances have changed.
Who is covered by the winter fuel allowance scheme in Scotland?
The Winter Fuel Payment scheme applies across the UK, meaning that older citizens in Scotland can also make a winter fuel allowance claim if eligible or will receive this automatically.
But the Scottish Government extended the scheme in Scotland to also benefit families with severely disabled children.
In 2014-15, more than one million individuals received a Winter Fuel Payment in Scotland.
You can find out more about help with heating costs in Scotland on the mygov.scot website.
When will I receive my winter fuel payment?
With a deadline of making a winter fuel allowance claim for winter 2021 to 2022 falling on 31 March 2022, those who meet the eligibility requirements or are automatically eligible will receive their lump sum in time for winter.
The UK Government says that winter fuel payments can be expected to arrive in November or December, but should arrive no later than 14 January 2022.
Go to https://www.gov.uk/winter-fuel-payment to find out more.