Universal Credit rules for getting the winter cash bonus

Temperatures have plummeted across Lancashire this week, with the Met Office setting multiple weather warnings for snow and ice.

As sub-zero temperatures prevail across the UK, we’re all trying to stay warm.

And with England on its third national lockdown, people are required to stay indoors unless necessary – meaning lots of us are putting the heating on at home.

It could mean worries over fuel bills and how much we are spending.

So a little extra cash always comes in handy, especially in that bleak financial period after the Christmas break.

The Department for Work and Pensions has confirmed that its Cold Weather Payment scheme has been activated in the current cold snap, reports Birmingham Live.

This winter, the scheme is running from November 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021, for a number of postcodes.

For the previous period of the scheme, which ran between November 2019 and the end of March 2020, the Cold Weather Payment was triggered seven times, with 3.6 million people eligible for the bonus.

Of those, just over 3 million people were in England, 365,000 in Scotland and 228,000 in Wales.

The cash bonus of £25 is available to those on specific benefits, including Universal Credit, if the average temperature in your area is recorded as, or forecast to be, zero degrees celsius or below over seven consecutive days. The amount is paid out for each seven-day cold snap.

But there are rules to know. If you are claiming Universal Credit, it’s not a given that you will get the Cold Weather Payment.

Universal Credit rules for Cold Weather Payment

1. You must not be employed or self-employed

2. You have a health condition or disability and have limited capability for work (with or without work-related activity) OR

3. You have a child under 5 living with you

4. However, you will also be eligible if you have a disabled child amount in your claim, whether you are employed or not.

If you’re getting Universal Credit and think you qualify for the Cold Weather Payment but haven’t received it, sign in to your account and add a note to your journal.

If you do not have an online account, ring the Universal Credit helpline instead on 0800 328 5644. This is a free number and lines are open Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm.

The Government also runs a Winter Fuel Payment scheme. But it is not available to those on Universal Credit.

If you are eligible, you could get between £100 and £300 towards your heating bills.

You qualify for a Winter Fuel Payment if both 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 21 to 27 September 2020 – this is called the ‘qualifying week’

You will get your Winter Fuel Payment automatically (you do not need to claim) if you’re eligible and either:

  • get the State Pension
  • get another social security benefit (but NOT Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction, Child Benefit or Universal Credit)

Others who may be eligible for Cold Weather Payment

You may also be entitled to get Cold Weather Payments if you’re receiving:

  • Pension Credit
  • Income Support
  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Support for Mortgage Interest

Those on income support or income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance must also have any of the following:

  • a disability or pensioner premium
  • a child who is disabled
  • Child Tax Credit that includes a disability or severe disability element
  • a child under 5 living with you

If you get income-related ESA and are in a work-related activity group or support group, you normally qualify for the payment. If you’re not in either group, you might also get Cold Weather Payments if you have any of the following:

  • a severe or enhanced disability premium
  • a pensioner premium
  • a child who is disabled
  • Child Tax Credit that includes a disability or severe disability element
  • a child under 5 living with you

Tell your pension centre or Jobcentre Plus office if you think you should have received a Cold Weather Payment but you have not.

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