What are Winter Fuel Payments?

There are several schemes to help those on low incomes keep themselves adequately warm during the colder winter months. Discover what the Winter Fuel Payment scheme is, whether you’re eligible for, it and how it works.

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What is the Winter Fuel Payment scheme?

This is a tax-free government heating allowance automatically paid every year - typically during November and December but it can be paid as late as April if someone has applied for the grant for the first time before its cut-off date (31st March). The payment is worth between £100 and £300 to qualifying households. It’s designed to help those in need meet the additional costs of heating their home during the colder winter months.

Do I qualify for the Winter Fuel Payment?

The scheme is targeted at any household with at least one member who is over the Pension Credit age (65+). The 2020-1 scheme closed on 31 March 2021, and details for the 2021-2 scheme have not yet been made available. However, those applying to the 2020-1 scheme had to meet both of the following conditions:

  • You were born on or before 5 October 1954.

  • You lived in the UK for at least one day during the week of 21-27 September 2020.

If you weren’t living in the UK for the qualifying period, but are of Pension Credit age, you may still have been able to apply for the payment if two further conditions were met:

  • You live in a country in the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland*.

  • You have a genuine link to the UK, such as having UK-based family or having lived or worked here in the past.

*Some countries within the EEA are excluded from this scheme: Cyprus, France, Gibraltar, Greece, Malta, Portugal, or Spain. The reasoning is that the average temperature in these countries is much higher than it is in the UK.

Are there any disqualifying conditions?

In addition to the eligibility criteria listed above, there are several disqualifying conditions that may make you ineligible for the Winter Fuel Payment. These are:

  • If you’ve been hospitalised for longer than a year while receiving free treatment.

  • If you were in prison during the qualifying week.

  • If you require permission to enter the UK and are not eligible to receive public funds.

  • If you lived in a care home for a specific period (29 June to 27 September 2020 in the case of the 2020-1 scheme) and received one of the following benefits: Income Support, Pension Credit, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, or income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance.

How much is the Winter Fuel Payment worth?

This amount varies from year to year, so it’s important to check the official website for the latest information. Basically, the amount you receive will depend on your age, your circumstances during the qualifying week and any other benefits you may be on.

For the 2020-1 scheme, you could expect to have received the following:

Updated 25 March 2021
Born between 28 September 1940 and 5 October 1954 Born on or before 27 September 1940
You qualify and live alone (or none of the people you live with qualify) £200 £300
You qualify and live with someone under 80 who also qualifies £100 £200
You qualify and live with someone 80 or over who also qualifies £100 £150
You qualify, live in a care home, and don’t receive certain benefits £100 £150

If either you or your partner receives one of Pension Credit, JSA, ESA or Income Support, then you’ll receive a different figure:

Updated 25 March 2021
Born between 28 September 1940 and 5 October 1954 Born on or before 27 September 1940
You qualify, get one of the benefits and live alone (or none of the people you live with qualify) £200 £300
You qualify and live with someone who also gets one of the benefits £200 - only one of you will get the payment £300 - only one of you will get the payment
You qualify, live in a care home and get one of the benefits NilNil

Claiming for the Winter Fuel Payment: all you need to know

Ordinarily, you shouldn’t need to claim for Winter Fuel Payments – they’re paid automatically into your account every November or December. However, if you’ve not received a payment before, you may need to apply if any of the following is true:

  • You don’t receive benefits or a State Pension.

  • You only receive one of Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction, Child Benefit or Universal Credit.

  • You get benefits or a State Pension but live in Switzerland or a qualifying EEA country (see above).

You may also need to claim if – since your last payment – you’ve deferred your State Pension or moved abroad to Switzerland or a qualifying EEA country. In this event, contact the Winter Fuel Payment Centre to report your change in circumstances.

Making a claim

You may claim by phone or post. Before doing so, you’ll need to have the following to hand:

  • Your National Insurance number.

  • Your bank or building society details.

  • Your BIC or IBAN numbers (if living in the EEA or Switzerland).

  • The date of your marriage or civil partnership, if applicable.

You should also let the centre know if you were in hospital receiving in-patient treatment for free, in a residential care home or Ilford Park Resettlement Home, or in prison during the qualifying period (21-27 September in 2020).

To claim by phone, call 0800 731 0160 from inside the UK, or +44 (0)191 218 7777 from outside. The service is available from 9.30am-3.30pm, Monday to Friday.

To apply by post, you’ll need to fill out the appropriate form depending on whether you live in the UK or outside the UK. Details of where to send the form can be found at the end of the document.

Can I challenge a Winter Fuel Payment decision?

Yes, if a decision is made on your application that you don’t agree with, you can challenge it in a process known as “mandatory reconsideration”, which means the Winter Fuel Payment centre is obligated to review your claim once again.

If you disagree with their final decision, you can appeal to an independent tribunal, but note there are strict time limits when it comes to disputing a claim. Usually, you’ll only have a month to dispute the decision.

What other government schemes can I apply for?

If you’re not eligible for the Winter Fuel Payment, there may be other schemes you qualify for to help with heating costs over the winter period. These are:

Cold Weather Payment

If you already receive certain benefits, such as a Pension Credit, you may be able to get additional money during periods of extreme cold. You may be eligible to receive £25 a week for each seven-day period of bad weather (0°C or below for seven days in succession), but it’s important to remember that Cold Weather Payments only apply between 1 November and 31 March. 

Check out our dedicated guide to the Cold Weather Payment scheme.

Warm Home Discount scheme

If you receive the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit or you’re on a low income, you may qualify for the Warm Home Discount scheme, which entitles you to a one-off payment of £140 for your electricity bill between September and March. 

Read our dedicated guide to the Warm Home Discount scheme.

National Concessionary Fuel Scheme

If you are an ex-employee of the National Coal Board (NCB) or British Coal Corporation (BCC), or the widow/widower of an ex-employee (providing they qualified for the scheme), you may be entitled to free solid fuel or a fuel cash allowance.