HOUSEHOLDS have just one week left to claim money off their energy bill which could save them as much as £300.
The winter fuel payment gives financial help to cover the cost of heating your home over winter months.
If you're entitled to the cash, how much you get depends on your age and whether you claim certain benefits.
The tax-free payment comes from the government each year and is worth between £100 and £300.
Most people who are eligible for the payment will get it automatically, but this isn't always the case so is worth checking.
Anyone who doesn't get it automatically but who is eligible needs to apply and the deadline for doing this is March 31.
That means you need to get your skates on as there's just over a week left to claim.
How to save on your energy bills
SWITCHING energy providers can sound like a hassle – but fortunately it’s pretty straight forward to change supplier – and save lots of cash.
Shop around – If you're on an SVT deal you are likely throwing away more than £300 a year. Use a comparion site such as MoneySuperMarket.com, uSwitch or EnergyHelpline.com to see what deals are available to you.
The cheapest deals are usually found online and are fixed deals – meaning you'll pay a fixed amount usually for 12 months.
Switch – When you've found one, all you have to do is contact the new supplier.
It helps to have the following information – which you can find on your bill – to hand to give the new supplier.
- Your postcode
- Name of your existing supplier
- Name of your existing deal and how much you pay
- An up-to-date meter reading
It will then notify your current supplier and begin the switch.
It should take no longer than three weeks to complete the switch and your supply won't be interrupted in that time.
Who can get the winter fuel payment?
People who receive the state pension and some other benefits are entitled to the winter fuel payment.
People qualify for a winter fuel payment for the 2020/2021 witner if both of the following apply:
- you were born on or before October 5, 1954
- you lived in the UK for at least one day during the week of September 21 to 27, 2020 – this is called the "qualifying week"
If you did not live in the UK during the qualifying week, you might still get the payment if both the following apply:
- you live in Switzerland or a EEA country
- you have a genuine and sufficient link with the UK social security system, such as having lived or worked in the UK and having a family in the UK
But there are exclusions – you can’t get the payment if you live in Cyprus, France, Gibraltar, Greece, Malta, Portugal or Spain.
This is because the average winter temperature is higher than the warmest region of the UK.
You will not qualify if you:
- are in hospital getting free treatment for more than a year
- need permission to enter the UK and your granted leave states that you can not claim public funds
- were in prison for the whole week between 21 to 27 September 2020
- lived in a care home for the whole time between 29 June to 27 September 2020, and got Pension Credit, Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or income-related Employment and Support Allowance
You may still be able to get the cold weather payment or apply for the warm home discount scheme, even if you don't qualify for winter fuel allowance.
How do I claim the winter fuel payment?
If you get the winter fuel payment automatically it usually arrives between November and December.
If you haven't received the cash and you're eligible you'll need to apply.
Usually this is people who are eligible but who don't get a state pension or other certain other benefits, or if you live in Switzerland or another EEA country.
What to do if you can’t pay your bills
FALLING behind on your energy bills can be extremely stressful.
If you’re struggling to pay what you owe, contact your supplier as soon as possible.
Your provider has to help you come up with a solution, and you should be able to negotiate a deal that works for you both.
One option is to agree a payment plan where you pay off your debts in affordable instalments.
You may be able to pay off your debts directly from your benefits through the Fuel Direct Scheme.
A fixed amount will automatically be taken to cover what you owe plus your usage.
To be eligible, you must be getting one of the following benefits:
- Income-based jobseeker’s allowance
- Income support
- income-related employment and support allowance
- Pension credit
- Universal Credit (but only if you’re not working)
If you cannot come to an agreement with your supplier, they may try to force you to get a prepayment meter installed.
In very rare cases, where you refuse to negotiate, your supplier might threaten you with disconnection.
You can claim by post, phone or email. The contact details will depend on where you live and a full list can be found on gov.uk.
You'll need the following information to hand.
- your National Insurance number
- your bank or building society details
- your BIC and IBAN numbers if you live in the EEA or Switzerland
- the date you were married or entered into a civil partnership (if appropriate)
You'll also need to tell them if you were in hospital or a residential care home for the qualifying week which is September 21 to September 27 2020 (this date changes each year).
How much will I get?
The amount of money you get will depend on your circumstances.
This includes age, where you live and who you live with.
Any amount you do receive is tax-free and won't affect any other benefits you get.
Someone living in a care home for instance and who is 70-years-old would be entitled to £100.
Meanwhile, a person who lives alone in their own home and is aged 85 is entitled to £300.
The table below explains what you'll get.
If you or your partner get pension credit, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA),income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or income support, then the table below explains what you'll get.
After you've made your claim you'll get a letter telling you how much you'll get and a date you'll get the payment.
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