Keeping your house warm in winter can be tricky when you’re surviving on a pension, but thankfully, there are heating funds and benefits that you can claim for this purpose. In 2007, Help The Aged suggested that as many as two million pensioners in the UK turned their heating down or even off to save on heating costs, with several million only heating part of their home. The vast majority of these people were not claiming the heating benefits that are specifically set aside for pensioners (and that they are entitled to claim) so that they don’t have to freeze to save a bit of cash. Some may not even know that such benefits exist.
What Benefits are Available?
There are several heating benefits available for pensioners. Some of these are described below.
Winter Fuel Payments
These are available to those over the age of sixty (provided that you are sixty or over on the qualifying date, which is usually the third Monday of September). They are tax-free, and are not dependent on how much (or how little) your household income is. Most households will get £200 to put towards heating costs, but this rises to £300 for those over eighty. These payments do vary though, and are generally confirmed in the summer.
If you have a basic state Retirement Pension, you should be eligible to claim this benefit. Most of the time, these do not need to be claimed, as long as you are eligible. However if you not previously received a Winter Fuel Payment and you don’t receive one of the following, you will need to make a claim: Retirement Pension, Pension Credit, Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Attendance Allowance, Disability Living Allowance, Incapacity Benefit, Severe Disablement Allowance or Bereavement Benefit.
Cold Weather Payments
If the weather is exceptionally cold, these are available to put towards heating bills. The weather must be below zero for a week or more in order for Cold Weather Payments to be paid out, and they aren’t huge payments – for each affected day, you will get £8.50. This payment does not have to be claimed, as it will be sent out automatically.
Warm Front Grants
These are available to those who are deemed at risk, including the elderly. Through the grant, you may be eligible for up to £2700 per year to put towards heating your home. This can include insulation to help your home become more energy efficient. If you are receiving Pension Credit, you should be eligible for the grant.
If you are not currently taking advantage of the benefits and grants that are available to help pensioners with their heating costs, you are definitely missing a trick. These payments can go a long way towards adequately heating your home in the winter months. Millions of pensioners are not claiming for heating benefits that they are entitled to, and this can have devastating results – every year, thousands of elderly people die because they thought that they couldn’t afford to switch their heating on. If they had been aware of the heating benefits on offer, this could be an entirely different story.