Martin Lewis discusses NI contributions to pension
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With inflation at a 41-year high and energy bills soaring, living expenses are much greater this year than they were the last. But as the days grow colder and the need to put the heating on increases, many may be wondering just how they'll be able to afford the bills. Fortunately, there is some support available.
According to the British Heart Foundation charity, lower temperatures can increase the risk of illness, including heart attacks, strokes, flu and pneumonia – especially for those aged 65 and over with a pre-existing health condition.
To help reduce the risk, the World Health Organisation advises homes to be heated to at least 18C over the winter months – but these costs can add up quickly.
Those struggling to pay their bills may be eligible to seek help. The Government offers several benefits to help the elderly population with living costs, and here are five that some may be eligible for.
Cold Weather Payments to £150 energy bills discount – pensioners could get hundreds extra (Image: GETTY)
Winter Fuel Payment
The Winter Fuel Payment is a tax-free benefit available to anyone born on or before September 26, 1955.
Normally, and if eligible, pensioners can get between £100 to £300 depending on age and personal circumstances to put towards heating costs. This year, the amount to be received will also include the Pensioner Cost of Living Payment, which will boost the figure of potential payments up to a range between £250 to £600 instead.
Most eligible households will get the payment automatically, but people may need to claim it if they don’t receive any benefits or a state pension.
To claim, call the Winter Fuel Payment Centre on 0800 731 0160 or visit the Government website here . Claimants will need to know their National Insurance number, bank or building society details, and the date they got married (if applicable).
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Cold Weather Payments can provide valuable support to those eligible (Image: EXPRESS)
According to the Government website, most Winter Fuel Payments will have been made automatically in November or in December, and eligible recipients will receive a letter telling them how much they'll get.
For those who don't receive a letter or the money is not paid into their account by January 13, 2023, the DWP advises Britons to contact the Winter Fuel Payment Centre.
Warm Home Discount scheme
People can get £150 off electricity bills between the months of October 2022 and March 2023, and there are two ways to qualify.
To be eligible, people must either receive the Guaranteed Credit element of Pension Credit or be on a low income and meet their energy supplier's criteria for the scheme.
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People can find out if they qualify by contacting their energy supplier as soon as possible. Those eligible by Guaranteed Credit should contact the Warm Home Discount helpline on 0800 731 0214 if they don't receive a letter.
Cold Weather Payment
Households that fall into the vulnerable and low-income bracket are offered subsidies through the Cold Weather Payment scheme when the weather drops below a certain level for an extended period of time.
The payments are made by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) automatically and come into effect every winter.
A payment is made if the average temperature in the person's area is recorded as, or forecast to be, zero degrees or below for seven consecutive days.
The scheme runs from November 1, 2022, to March 31, 2023, and people get paid £25 for each seven-day period of cold weather.
To be eligible, people may be receiving Pension Credit, Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, Universal Credit, or support for mortgage interest (SMI) loan.
Those living in Scotland cannot get Cold Weather Payments, however, they might get an annual Winter Heating Payment instead.
There are certain requirements with each benefit that would deem a person eligible to receive payment, such as also having a disability or pensioner premium. To find out the full list of requirements with each benefit, visit the Government website .
Households will be able to check if a payment is due in their area using the DWP's Cold Weather Payment postcode checker.
Affordable Warmth Obligation (ECO)
The Affordable Warmth Obligation is a Government scheme to help those on low incomes keep their homes warm by initiating large domestic energy suppliers to fund certain energy-saving improvements.
Those who claim certain benefits and live in either private or social housing could get support, such as insulation improvements and boiler replacements or repairs.
Those living in social housing that has an energy efficiency rating of E, F or G might be eligible for help.
Claimants who own their own house must have an energy efficiency rating of D, E, F or G to be eligible, while those renting from a private landlord must have an energy efficiency rating of E, F or G.
To find the property's energy efficiency rating, people can check the energy performance certificate register here . To apply, people can contact their local council to find out if it's participating in the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme, or contact an energy supplier directly.
Welsh Fuel Support scheme
The Welsh Fuel Support scheme offers eligible households a one-off £200 cash payment from their local authority to put towards fuel bills. This is in addition to the winter fuel payment.
The scheme is open to households where an applicant or their partner is in receipt of one of the following qualifying benefits at any time between September 1, 2022, and January 31, 2023:
- Income Support
- Income-Based Job Seekers Allowance
- Employment and Support Allowance
- Universal Credit
- Working Tax Credits
- Child Tax Credits
- Pension Credit
- Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
- Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
- Attendance Allowance
- Carers Allowance
- Contributory Benefits
- Council Tax Reduction Scheme (CTRS)
- Armed Forces Independence Payment
- Constant Attendance Allowance
- War Pension Mobility Supplement
Applications can be made to local authorities via their websites.
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