Millions of people will start to receive cost of living payments up to £600 from Wednesday to help with energy bills this winter.
More than 11.6 million pensioners are in line to get the Winter Fuel Payments over the next two months, which have been boosted this year by an extra £300 per household Pensioner Cost of Living payment. The Winter Fuel Payment is worth between £100 and £300 and is paid to everyone over the state pension age.
The vast majority of payments will be made to state pensioners automatically, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said, with the cash to start landing in bank accounts from 23 November.
The money will appear in bank statements with the payment reference starting with the customer’s national insurance number followed by “DWP WFP” for people living in England, Scotland and Wales, or “DFC WFP” for people in Northern Ireland.
Most payments will be automatic in November or December, but some people may need to make a claim, such as those who qualify but do not receive benefits or the state pension and have never previously received a Winter Fuel Payment, the DWP said. Anyone who has not received a payment by 13 January 2023 is advised to contact the Winter Fuel Payment Centre.
Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride said: “We want to do everything we can to support pensioners who are often the most exposed to higher costs. That’s why we’re providing all pensioner households with an additional £300 on top of their Winter Fuel Payments to heat their homes and stay warm this winter.”
More than seven million payments of £324 have already been made this month to low-income households as part of the government’s cost of living support, including to pensioners receiving Pension Credit.
The average Pension Credit award is worth more than £3,500 a year and for those pensioners who may be eligible but are yet to make an application, there is still time to do so and qualify for the additional £324 payment. This is because Pension Credit claims can be backdated by up to three months, provided the entitlement conditions are met throughout that time.
To ensure that a successful backdated claim falls within the qualifying period for the extra £324 cost of living help, pensioners are being urged to claim Pension Credit as soon as possible and by no later than 18 December. An online Pension Credit calculator is available to help pensioners check if they are likely to be eligible and get an estimate of what they may receive.
More cost of living payments to come
It comes as further cost of living support is set to be paid next year following Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s autumn statement last week. Payments will include a £900 boost for households on means-tested benefits, a further £300 for pensioner households, plus a £150 payment for people on disability benefit.
It was also confirmed in the autumn statement that retirees will be heading for a 10.1% increase to the state pension from next April, after Hunt confirmed that the pensions triple lock is being protected.
The full new state pension is currently £185.15 per week, so a 10.1% increase would push that figure up to £203.85. For those on the full, old basic state pension, who reached state pension age before April 2016, the increase means a weekly rise from £141.85 to £156.20.
The triple lock is normally used to calculate the increase in the state pension, but it was temporarily suspended due to the distorting impacts of the Covid pandemic.