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Financial support in winter for carers

With the cost of living and energy bills going up, everything can feel overwhelming. Our guide, written for unpaid carers, includes the financial support we may be entitled to this winter.

Illustration of two friends in jumpers, sitting on a couch.

Energy-saving information for carers this winter



1. Warm Home Discount Scheme

This is a one-off payment of £150, automatically paid directly to our energy supplier to help with the cost of our energy bills between October 2023 and March 2024. We do not need to do anything.


Am I eligible for the Warm Home Discount?

To qualify this year we need to claim either

  • the Guarantee Credit portion of Pension Credit or,

  • a different 'qualifying benefit'.


Then the Government will make an assessment of our energy costs based on the property we live in.


Most energy providers have a date by which we must have been a customer, to ensure we qualify. It's also worth checking if our energy provider is a member of the scheme.


How can I apply for the Warm Home Discount?

Although the Warm Home Discount 2023 Scheme started in October 2023, we do not need to do anything. The discount will be automatically applied to our bill through our energy supplier.


If we’re on a low-income living in Scotland, we'll need to contact our energy supplier to see if we’re eligible and how to apply. To find out more, we can contact the Warm Home Discount's helpline on 0800 731 0214.


When will the Warm Home Discount be paid?

Some of us may have already received the discount automatically depending on our supplier. But for those who haven't, we will usually get a letter by early January 2024 so do pop a reminder or alarm to check back on it.


If we don't get a letter by then and think we might be eligible, contact the Warm Home Discount's helpline on 0800 731 0214 before February 2024.



2. Cold Weather Payments 2023/24

The Cold Weather Payment allows for a payment of £25 for each seven-day period of weather, which is either forecast to be or recorded as zero degrees celsius or below. This runs from 1st November 2023 to 31st March 2024.


Am I eligible for Cold Weather Payments?

We’ll usually get a Cold Weather Payment if we get Pension Credit. We may get a Cold Weather Payment if we’re getting one of the following:

  • Income Support

  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance

  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance

  • Universal Credit

  • Support for Mortgage Interest

Check full details of eligibility here.


How can I apply for Cold Weather Payments?

We do not need to apply. If we are eligible we’ll be paid automatically. The Cold Weather Payment scheme runs from the 1st of November 2023 to the 31st of March 2024. Check if we can get a payment in our area here.


When will the Cold Weather Payments be paid?

After each period of very cold weather in our area, we should get a payment within 14 working days. It’s paid into the same bank or building society account as our benefit payments.

Further Information

Read the full guidance on the government website here.



3. Winter Fuel Payments

For those of us born on or before 25th of September 1957, we may be eligible to receive between £250 and £600, to help us pay for heating bills.


If eligible, we should have received a payment in November or December 2023. If we haven't received the letter or no payment has been made to our account by 26th January 2024, contact the Winter Fuel Payment Centre.


Am I eligible for winter fuel payments?

To qualify we must:

  • have been born on or before 25th of September 1956

and:

  • we receive the State Pension, or

  • we get another social security benefit (excluding Adult Disability Payment from the Scottish Government, Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction, Child Benefit or Universal Credit)


How can I apply for Winter Fuel Payments?

If we've previously claimed and received the Winter Fuel Payment, the payment will be made automatically so there's no need for another claim.


If it's our first time making a claim, we can do so over the phone by calling the Winter Fuel Payment Centre on 0800 731 0160. They also have an online enquiry request form although, we suggest calling them up directly may speed things up.


If we don’t receive a State Pension, or other benefits or live abroad, we will need to contact the Winter Fuel Payment Centre.


Pensioner Cost of Living Payment

The Winter Fuel Payment would have also included a Pensioner Cost of Living Payment. which is an additional £150 or £300. We would have been sent a letter in October or November telling us how much Winter Fuel Payment we’d receive.



4. The Household Support Fund

It's also worth checking with our local councils to see how they are distributing the Household Support Fund. This is for households with low incomes and can be in the form of grants or vouchers.


We can find out more on how to apply (or if we need to) through our local council website.


Things the money can be spent on include; water, energy, food, and wider essentials such as paying for transport or fuel and housing costs.



5. Discounts for households with a pre-payment meter

From the 1st of January 2024 to 31st of March 2024, the Energy Price Guarantee PPM (pre-payment meter) discount will be applied to electricity and gas tariffs as follows:


  • 4.5083p for electricity between January 2024 to March 2024

  • 6.7565p for gas between January 2024 to March 2024


The discount will be automatically applied so we do not need to do anything.


Be "Scam Aware"

This discount is automatic. If you receive any communications asking you to apply, it will be a scam.


If we're struggling to pay our bills this winter, get in touch with the energy supplier. Lots of energy providers such as Octopus, British Gas and E.ON are offering financial help services and schemes that we may be eligible for to support us.


6. What happens if our energy provider goes bust?

  • take a meter reading

  • sit tight and don't switch

  • wait for Ofgem to assign a new provider

  • when the new provider contacts you, ask to be put on the cheapest tariff

  • shop around and switch if you find a better deal. You won't be charged an exit fee


It's reassuring to know that any money on your account as credit is protected.



He also points out some tips and actions we can take if we find ourselves being charged twice in the process of transferring to a new provider.


We can also find out more from Citizens Advice, on the specific steps we can take if our energy provider collapses.



7. Priority Services Register for carers

Some energy providers may be able to offer us extra help and priority access to energy or gas solutions with something known as the Priority Services Register.


*Carers tip: Some carers have shared that this does not grant us priority in cases of natural emergencies such as storms. So it's worth enquiring with our energy supplier beforehand on what support there is in cases of emergencies.



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