Struggling to afford your fuel bills when the temperature drops? You may be entitled to claim the cold weather payment to help with your heating costs.

But what is the cold weather payment, how much is it and who is eligible to get it?

What is a cold weather payment?

Not to be confused with the winter fuel payment, which helps qualifying older people pay for their energy use during the colder months of the year, the cold weather payment is available for people on certain benefits should the average temperature drop below a certain level for seven consecutive days during the winter months.

The scheme runs each year from November to March and, if you’re eligible, you’ll receive the payment to help towards energy costs should the temperature drop, or be forecasted to drop, to zero degrees Celsius or below during this period.

From November 1 2016 you can use the government’s cold weather payment postcode search to find out whether your area is set to receive the cold weather payment.

[Read more: Winter fuel payments – what are they and how much do you get?]

How much do you get?

Should you be eligible to receive the cold weather payment you’ll receive £25 for each seven-day period of cold weather between  November 1 2016 and March 31 2017. 

For example, if the area you live in experiences sub-zero temperatures for 14 consecutive days in the months November to March you’ll receive £50 in cold weather payments. This would also apply if there were two cold spells each consisting of seven consecutive days.

The money should be paid into your account within 14 days of the cold spell occurring. You don’t have to apply to receive it, it will automatically be paid into the same account your other benefits are paid into.

Are you eligible to receive it?

While you need to be in receipt of certain benefits to receive the cold weather payment, it doesn’t affect any of your benefit payments and you don’t have to pay it back. It’s simply a helping hand with fuel costs should the temperature plummet where you live.

If you receive any of the following benefits you may be eligible for the cold weather payments, should the weather plummet to below zero degrees Celsius in your area:

  • pension credit;

  • income support;

  • income-based jobseeker's allowance;

  • income related employment and support allowance (ESA);

  • Universal Credit;

While people receiving certain benefits, such as pension credit and income support, will usually receive the cold weather payment automatically should it be ‘triggered’ by prolonged cold spells, there are additional qualifying criteria for other benefits.

If you’re on income-based jobseeker's allowance, it’s only available to those who also receive disability or pensioner premium, child tax credits or have a disabled child or a child under five years of age.

For people claiming income-related ESA, you’ll usually get it if you also have support- or work-related ESA, a severe or enhanced disability premium, a pensioner premium, child tax credits, or have a disabled child or a child under five years of age living with you.

If you receive Universal Credit you’ll usually be eligible for the cold weather payment if you’re not employed or self employed and receive a limited capability for work element, the disabled child element or you have a child under five living with you.

Claiming the cold weather payment

You don’t need to apply for the cold weather payments if you’re already receiving eligible benefits, it should be paid automatically.

For anyone claiming income support, income-based jobseeker's allowance or income-related ESA you will need to tell your Jobcentre Plus if you have a baby or a child under five years comes to live with you, as you won’t receive the cold weather payment automatically. 

If for any reason you don’t receive the payment and you think you are eligible then tell your pension centre, Jobcentre Plus officer or contact the Universal Credit helpline on for assistance on 0345 600 0723.

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