Information on benefits and other help if your home is cold.
Winter fuel payment
You could get between £100 and £300 tax-free to help pay your heating bills if you were born on or before 5 July 1952. This is known as a ‘Winter Fuel Payment’.
Most payments are made automatically between November and December. You should get your money by Christmas.
You usually get a Winter Fuel Payment automatically if you get the State Pension or another social security benefit (not Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction or Child Benefit).
If you qualify but don’t get paid automatically, you’ll need to make a claim.
How to claim
You need to claim Winter Fuel Payment if you’ve not had it before and either of the following apply:
- you don’t get benefits or the State Pension
- you only get Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction, or Child Benefit
Winter Fuel Payments for helpline for new claimants Call 08459 15 15 15
If you’ve claimed before you should get your Winter Fuel Payment automatically from the organisation that pays your benefits. Contact them if you have any questions or there’s a change in your circumstances. You can find their details on any letters they’ve sent you.
Warm Home Discount
For winter 2015 to 2016, you could get a £140 discount on your electricity bill through the Warm Home discount scheme.
You qualify for the discount if on the ‘qualifying day’ (12 July 2015) if all of the following apply:
- your supplier was part of the scheme
- 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)
You’ll be sent a letter in Autumn if you are eligible for the warm Home Discount for the winter 2015 to 2016.
The money isn’t paid to you - it’s a one-off discount on your electricity bill, usually between September and March.
The discount won’t affect your Cold Weather Payment or Winter Fuel Payment.
Not everyone gets the discount - check if you qualify.
Pre-pay or pay-as-you-go meters
You can also qualify for the discount if you use a pre-pay or pay-as-you-go electricity meter.
Your electricity supplier can tell you how you’ll get the discount if you’re eligible, eg a voucher you can use to top up your meter.
If you don’t qualify
You may be able to apply directly to your electricity supplier for help if you don’t get the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit but:
- you’re on a low income
- you get certain means-tested benefits
- Check with your supplier to see if you’re eligible and how to apply.
How to claim
If you qualify for the discount, you’ll get a letter this autumn or winter telling you either:
- you don’t have to apply - you’ll get the discount automatically
- to apply by 29 January 2016 - the letter will tell you why and how
- You’ll receive your letter by 24 December at the latest.
If you don’t get a letter
- Contact the Warm Home Discount Team if you don’t get a letter but believe you qualify.
- If you have a general enquiry regarding the scheme or think you may be eligible you can contact the Warm Home Discount scheme helpline on 0845 603 9439
If you don’t qualify for the discount
You may be able to apply directly to your electricity supplier for help if you don’t qualify because you don’t get the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit.
Warm Home Discount Scheme
Telephone: 0345 603 9439
Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 4:30pm
Warm Home Discount Team
Pink Zone, 1st Floor
The following suppliers are part of the scheme:
The 2015/16 phase of the Warm Homes Discount (WHD) will be simpler and more accessible, particularly for low income families.
This is because we are introducing standard criteria that all
Participating suppliers will have to adopt for their Broader Group schemes. The adoption of standard criteria will help towards removing disincentives to switch. Suppliers will still be able to offer additional criteria as at present.
According to the spending review the warm home discount will be extended to 2020-2021
Priority Service Register
Many energy companies have priority service registers, services offered vary in range but many of the following are covered
To be eligible for the Priority Services Register you need to be:
- Of pensionable age.
- Disabled or Chronically sick.
- On means tested benefits with children under 5.
What are the benefits?
- Password scheme for added security - only genuine company Energy representatives visiting your home will be able to identify themselves with this pre-arranged password.
- Supply Interruption Advance Warning - your supply address details will be passed on to the appropriate Gas Transporter or District Network Operator. In the event of a power outage or supply interruption, they will use your information to provide advance warnings and offer alternatives, where necessary, to reduce or avoid disruption.
- Specially designed appliance controls and adaptors - for customers with dexterity or visual impairment.
- Advice booklets - all available in a specified alternative format such as large print, Braille or CD.
- Alternative format correspondence - if you have difficulty reading bills and correspondence from British Gas, we can arrange to send these in an alternative format such as large print or Braille. We can also send your bills out on CD or arrange for an advisor to call you every quarter to “talk” through your bill.
- Free yearly gas safety check - you can receive a Free Gas Safety Check if:
- You live alone and are aged over 60, disabled, or chronically sick.
- You live with others, and all household occupants are of pensionable age
and/or disabled and/or chronically sick and/or under 18 years old.
- You are in receipt of means tested benefits and a child under the age of 5 lives in your household
- Moving your gas and/or electricity meters -If you are unable to reach the safety handle on your gas meter or you are unable to access a “Pay as you go” meter to top up, we may be able to move your meter free of charge to a more suitable position. We can also look at moving your meter for access reasons i.e. wheelchair access, downstairs toilet/shower room has been fitted.
- Quarterly Meter Readings – If there is nobody in your property that is able to read the meter, we can arrange for a meter inspector to call every quarter to do this for you. The meter inspector will also advise you of the reading at the time of the visit.
- The nominee scheme - your gas and/or electricity bills can be sent to nominated person of your choice.
- Textphone – A communication channel for customers with hearing impairments.
Warm Home Discount Scheme helpline
Telephone: 0845 603 9439
Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 4.30pm
Winter Fuel Payments helpline
Telephone: 08459 15 15 15
From outside the UK: +44 (0)191 218 7777
Textphone: 0845 601 5613
Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 4:30pm
Winter Fuel Payment Centre
Mail Handling Site A
Priority Service registers
British Gas, Sainsburys
0800 072 8625
Pay As You Go customer British Gas/Sainsburys
0800 294 8604
Or textphone 18001 0845 955 5202
0800 269 450
0800 051 1480
For more information please call the Warm Response Team on 0808 172 6999 (free from most landlines) or 0330 100 8669 (included in any 'inclusive minutes' from mobiles) (lines are open from 8am - 6pm Monday to Friday and 9am - 5pm Saturday)