Cold Weather Payments

The Cold Weather Payment is a government grant designed to help the vulnerable avoid having to make a tough choice between ‘heating or eating’ each winter. So how do Cold Weather Payments work, and who’s eligible? Find out if you qualify below.

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In this guide you'll find answers to questions including:

  • How do Cold Weather Payments work?

  • Who is entitled to the Cold Weather Payments?

  • How to apply for Cold Weather Payments

  • Cold Weather Payment checker

  • When will I receive my Cold Weather Payment?

  • Is other assistance available besides the Cold Weather Payment?

  • Beyond the Cold Weather Payment, how can I save money in winter?

How do Cold Weather Payments work?

The Cold Weather Payment is designed to help offset heating bills during periods of cold weather, and applies when the temperature drops to zero degrees Celsius or below for seven consecutive days. This government scheme applies between 1 November and 31 March each year. 

If the temperature where you live dips below zero for one week or more, eligible households will receive £25 for each period of seven days.

This is independent of any other benefits you might receive, and there’s no need to repay the money. It will be deposited directly into your bank account within 14 working days to help offset the extra heating costs.

There are several payments designed to help vulnerable households over the winter. It’s important to note that the Cold Weather Payment is separate from the Winter Fuel Payment and you may be eligible for both. 

Who is entitled to the Cold Weather Payments?

Are you eligible for the Cold Weather Payment? If you receive other benefits or income support, you may qualify for the Cold Weather Payment as well. Examples include the following: 

  • Pension Credit

  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance

  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance

  • Income Support

  • Universal Credit

  • Support for Mortgage Interest

If you receive Income Support or Jobseeker’s Allowance, you’ll also need to meet one of the following additional criteria: 

  • You have a disabled child

  • You receive a disability or pensioner premium

  • You receive Child Tax Credit with a disability or severe disability element 

  • A child under the age of five lives with you 

If you receive Income-related Employment and Support Allowance and are in either a support group or work-related activity group, you’ll usually receive the Cold Weather Payment. Otherwise, you’ll need to meet one of the criteria mentioned above. 

For Universal Credit, you will receive Cold Weather Payments if you’re unemployed and: 

  • You have limited capability for work due to a health condition or disability

  • You have a child under the age of five living with you

How to apply for Cold Weather Payments

The good news about the Cold Weather Payment is that there’s no need to file any claim. If you already have an account registered for benefits payments, the Cold Weather Payment will be transferred automatically. 

If in doubt, contact your pension centre, Universal Credit helpline, or Jobcentre Plus office. You may need to inform the relevant administration about a change in circumstances. For example, if you receive Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance and you’ve: 

  • Recently had a baby

  • A child under the age of five has come to live with you

You will need to tell the Jobcentre Plus about this household change to claim Cold Weather Payments.

How to apply for the Cold Weather Payment online

There’s no online application required for the Cold Weather Payment, but if you’re looking for more information about Cold Weather Payments, check the official government advice.

What should I do if I don’t receive my Cold Weather Payment?

If you think you’re eligible for a Cold Weather Payment but haven’t received it, there are several places you can turn for help. Depending on your eligibility, you should contact the pension centre or local Jobcentre Plus office for advice. 

If you receive Universal Credit, you can manage your account online. Sign in to your account and add a note to the journal for assistance. Alternatively, you could ring the helpline.  

One issue that could impact your payment is going into hospital. If you’ve been placed in hospital for any reason, you should also inform your pension centre, Jobcentre Plus office, or Universal Credit helpline.

How do I perform a Cold Weather Payment check?

Many of us don’t follow the forecast religiously. If you know that it’s been cold out but aren’t sure if you’re due a Cold Weather Payment, there’s a checking service. Simply enter the first half of your postcode into the DWP’s Cold Weather Payment Checker. This will show you how many qualifying periods of cold weather have taken place in your area while the current Cold Weather Payment scheme is running (1 November to 31 March).

When will I receive my Cold Weather Payment?

You should receive the Cold Weather Payment within 14 days of the relevant period of cold weather. This should be automatically deposited into your account. If you don’t receive your payment within this time frame, get in touch with the pension centre or Jobcentre Plus as outlined above. 

Is other assistance available besides the Cold Weather Payment?

Yes, there are other government schemes that can help you with your heating bills. One example is the Winter Fuel Payment. This is a one-off payment that’s unrelated to outdoor temperatures, which means you could qualify for both the Winter Fuel Payment and Cold Weather Payment. 

To qualify for the Winter Fuel Payment, you will usually need to be of pensionable age and on certain forms of benefits or income support. This grant is also designed to help vulnerable households to pay for their increased energy consumption over the winter months. 

Another type of payment is the Warm Home Discount, which provides rebates on your energy bills. For the 2019-2020 season, qualifying households receive a £140 rebate. This isn’t issued as a cash payment, but rather as a discount on existing energy bills. Like the Cold Weather Payment, the discount is paid automatically to eligible recipients on benefits. 

Beyond the Cold Weather Payment, how can I save money in winter?

The typical household uses more energy during the winter months. We spend more time indoors, using lights, heat, and electronic entertainment. As the temperature drops, we crank up the thermostat to keep our homes warm and toasty. Holiday decorations can also take their toll on our energy bills.

Grants and subsidies like those mentioned above can make a difference to your overall heating costs during the chilly winter months. However, there are other actions you can take at home to help lower your bills throughout the year. 

The simplest way to cut energy bills is to make sure your home is designed to lock in heat. This means proper insulation and draught-proofing - for instance, you can block currents of cold outside air from cooling down your home’s interior by insulating areas around your doors, windows, and letterboxes. Here are a few more tips to cut your bills in the winter:

  • Set your thermostat lower

Even one degree makes a difference over time

  • Switch to a smart thermostat

Choose a programmable model with custom heating schedules

  • Change your HVAC filters

Make sure there aren’t any blockages to keep the system working efficiently

  • Don’t waste heating

Uninsulated rooms like garages and attics don’t need to be heated

  • Regularly bleed your radiators

Plus find other ways to improve their performance

Finally, if your bills are too high, you could always think about switching suppliers. It’s quick and easy to do and could save you hundreds of pounds over the year – enough to rival any government scheme.

Last updated: 10 November 2020