HOUSEHOLDS on Universal Credit and benefits could get free cash help this Christmas that won’t need to be paid back.
Many people are struggling to cover the cost of essentials, and Christmas may be adding extra stress to household budgets.
Help for those on Universal Credit and other benefits ranges from council tax discounts to supermarket food vouchers.
Here, we’ve rounded up eight payments you could get this Christmas worth up to £5,109.
Warm House Discount – £150
Thousands of energy customers have started to receive £150 free cash to help with their energy bills this winter.
Households in England and Wales don’t need to apply to get the cash and they’ll automatically qualify if they were receiving certain benefits on or before Sunday, August 21.
You’ll need to be a recipient of one or more of the following benefits to qualify:
- Income support
- Income based jobseeker’s allowance
- Income related employment and support allowance
- Housing benefit
- Universal credit
- Child tax credit
- Working tax credits
- Pension credit guaranteed
- Pension credit savings credit
Through the Warm Home Discount, households get £150 off their electricity bill each winter.
It’s up to individual energy companies to decide when they will give their customers the discount.
Energy suppliers have until March 2023 to ensure that all eligible customers are paid the discount.
Customers will be able to see if they’ve received the cash by looking at their latest account statement.
The government is sending out letters on behalf of energy firms to ensure that energy customers know that they’re eligible for the cash.
Eligible households should automatically receive a confirmation letter between November 2022 and mid-January 2022 – so keep an eye out.
Customers can also check on the government website to see if they’re eligible for the discount even if they haven’t received a letter yet.
But those that think they’re eligible for the Warm Home Discount are being urged to wait until mid-January before getting in touch through the government’s hotline.
At this point, households should call the Warm Home Discount hotline on 0800 107 8002 before 28 February 2023.
Christmas bonus – £10
Millions on Universal Credit and benefits will receive a Christmas bonus from next Monday.
The tax-free £10 payment will be made during the qualifying week between 5 and 11 December, according to the DWP.
Eligible households don’t need to apply for the bonus as it will be paid automatically – but they will need to meet the eligibility criteria.
And as the £10 is a bonus, it won’t need to be repaid either, nor will it affect any other benefits you receive.
To qualify for the payment you must be present or ordinarily resident in the UK, Channel Islands, Isle of Man or Gibraltar during the first full week of December between the 5 and 11.
Households will also need to claim at least one of the 20 qualifying benefits within the same period.
The bonus isn’t available to those who receive Universal Credit only but someone on Universal Credit who also receives one of the qualifying benefits will receive it.
You can see the full list of qualifying benefits here.
Missing cost of living payments – £324
Eligible households have started receiving the next instalment of the £650 cost of living payment.
The payment is designed to help those on a low income with the cost of living.
Millions on means-tested benefits are eligible for the payment.
That includes those on Universal Credit, Income-based Jobseekers Allowance, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance.
Plus, those on Income Support, Working Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit and Pension Credit.
The first payment of £326 was made in July and September and the £324 instalment should have already begun landing in bank accounts this month.
The vast majority of people should have received the payment between November 8 and 23.
The remaining amount, those on Tax Credits, should have received it between November 23 and 30.
But there are certain scenarios where you might experience delays in receiving the payment.
For example, if you changed your bank accounts or your application wasn’t approved, you may not have received your cash.
Here are four reasons your £324 cost of living payment could be delayed.
Missing pension credit – up to £3,300 a year
More than 800,000 eligible pensioners are missing out on pension credit, which could see their pension pot boosted by about £3,3000 a year.
Martin Lewis has previously urged over 66 year olds to see if they’re due the extra payment.
Not everyone will be eligible but it is definitely worth checking.
Those who qualify will be accepted based on savings, disabilities and other circumstances.
Pension credit is quite simply a pension “top-up” payment.
It’s a means-tested benefit for those who are struggling to get by with what they have already.
There are two different types you can get depending on your circumstances – Guarantee Credit and Savings Credit.
The Guarantee Credit element tops up your weekly state pension to £182.60 if you’re single and your joint weekly income to £278.70 if you have a partner.
The average top up is £65 a week – so that’s a totally of £3,300 a year.
The Savings Credit element is worth up to £14.48 if you’re single and £16.20 if you have a partner.
To check, you can either go online at or call 0800 99 1234 – the helpline is usually open 8am to 6pm.
Cold weather payment – £25
The cold weather payment is dished out when temperatures are recorded as, or forecast to be, zero degrees or below, on average, for seven consecutive days.
When temperatures drop between November 1 and March 31, eligible Brits are entitled to extra money to heat their homes when this happens.
You get £25 for each seven-day period where the weather is below zero Celsius on average during this time frame.
You can check if your area has had a cold weather payment by popping your postcode into the government’s tool from November 1 onward.
By March 31 2022, the payments were triggered by 6 weather stations in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, covering around 36 postcodes.
Cold Weather Payments will no longer be made in Scotland as the scheme has been replaced.
Instead you might get an annual £50 Winter Heating Payment. You can find out more about the scheme on the Scottish Government website.
You’re eligible for the cold weather payment scheme if you’re in receipt of one of the following benefits and meet certain criteria:
- Pension credit
- Income support
- Income-based jobseeker’s allowance
- Income-related employment and support allowance
- Universal Credit
- Support for mortgage interest
Depending on your specific circumstances, you may also need to meet one or more of the following additional criteria:
- Have a disability or be in receipt of pension premium
- Have a child who is disabled
- Be in receipt of child tax credit that includes a disability or severe disability element
- Have a severe or enhanced disability premium
- Be in receipt of a limited capability for work amount
- Have a child under five living with you
Regardless of employment, Universal Credit claimants are eligible if they have a disabled child amount in their claim.
You can find out more about eligibility on the government’s website.
Winter fuel payment – up to £600
The winter fuel payment is an annual tax-free benefit designed to help with heating costs through the colder months.
Most people who are eligible get it automatically like if you receive the state pension or benefits.
However, you won’t necessarily qualify just because you claim housing benefit, council tax reduction, child benefit or Universal Credit.
If you do meet the criteria but don’t automatically get the winter fuel payment, you will have to apply on the government’s website.
The deadline for claiming the winter fuel payment for this winter, 2022 to 2023, is March 31, 2023.
You’ll qualify for a winter fuel payment if both of the following apply:
- you were born on or before September 25, 1956
- you lived in the UK for at least one day during the week of September 19 to 25, 2022 in what is known as 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 also 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 “qualifying week”
- lived in a care home for the whole time between 28 June to 26 September 2021, 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 postcode-based cold weather payment or apply for the warm home discount scheme, even if you don’t qualify for winter fuel payment.
Because of the £300 cost of living payment top up, what you can get this year has changed.
For example, if you were born on or before September 25, 1942 and live alone – or with people who are not eligible for the payment – you can claim £600.
If you were born between September 26, 1942 and September 25, 1956 and you live alone you receive £500.
There are more details on exactly who earns what amount on the government website.
Household Support Fund – up to £100
The government has released new funding – worth £421 million – for local councils to dish out to hard-up residents under the Household Support Scheme.
The Household Support Fund previously included vouchers to spend in the supermarket and for buying kids clothes in one area and £100 cash in another.
The help you can get depends on you location and your circumstances.
You can find your local council using this tool and searching you postcode. to see what help is available near to you.
Water bill help – as much as £600
Some water companies offer bill help if you’re on a low income, or debt write-off schemes if you’re in arrears.
What you can get depends on your water company so you’ll need to contact them directly.
For instance one woman on Universal Credit slashed her bill by £600 a year thanks to a fund from Severn Trent water.
Many water companies also offer free water-saving devices that shave pounds off your bills.
Contact your supplier. Freebies include shower timers and buffalo bags, which save water with every flush. Check out savewatersavemoney.co.uk.
Large families on Universal Credit or other benefits may be eligible for a cap on their bills under the WaterSure scheme.
To qualify for the scheme you need to already have a water meter installed, and prove you need to use a lot of water.
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