Millions of low-income households will receive fresh financial support from the government this year to help with the rising cost of living.
The support includes a £900 payment for means-tested benefits claimants, a separate £150 payment for more than six million people on disability benefits, and a £300 payment for over eight million pensioner households on top of their Winter Fuel Payments.
More than eight million people on means-tested benefits will automatically receive the first instalment of £301 this spring. The £301 payment is the first of five direct cost of living payments for the most vulnerable households, with the total amount of support reaching up to £1,350.
The spring equinox on 20 March marks the official start of the new season, but it is expected that the payments will not be rolled out until after the new financial year starts on 6 April.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has issued fresh guidance on the schedule for the next round of payments which were previously announced in Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s autumn statement.
The DWP said exact payment windows and qualifying periods for eligibility will be announced in due course, but are designed to ensure a consistent support offer throughout the year. Payment windows will be broadly as follows:
- £301 – First 2023/24 Cost of Living Payment – during spring 2023
- £150 – 2023 Disability Payment – during summer 2023
- £300 – Second 2023/24 Cost of Living Payment – during autumn 2023
- £300 – 2023 Pensioner Payment – during winter 2023/4
- £299 – Third 2023/24 Cost of Living Payment – during spring 2024
Who is eligible for the payments?
The DWP said there are several benefits that could make claimants eligible for the £301 cost of living payment. This includes Universal Credit and tax credits – through which 5.4 million households across the UK are expected to qualify - and Pension Credit - through which 1.4 million pensioner households are expected to be paid.
Around 1.3 million will be eligible through legacy DWP benefits such as Jobseekers Allowance and Income Support, reaching a total of 8.1 million households.
Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride said: “These direct payments will help people right across the UK over this year and the start of the next, as we continue to provide consistent, targeted and substantial support for the most vulnerable.
“Our wider support package, including the Energy Price Guarantee, will ensure every household is being helped through this challenging period of high inflation, caused by Putin’s illegal war and the aftershocks of the pandemic.”
How will payments be made?
Those who are eligible do not need to apply for payments, as they will be issued automatically. For each payment, exact payment start dates and eligibility dates will be communicated by the Department before payments begin.
People who qualify for cost of living payments through tax credits, and no other means-tested benefits, will be paid by HMRC shortly after DWP payments are made.
HMRC will communicate payment dates and eligibility dates for each cost of living payment for tax credit-only customers. These payments will all be tax-free, will not count towards the benefit cap, and will not have any impact on existing benefit awards.
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt added: “High inflation, exacerbated by Putin’s illegal war, is hurting economies across the world and making people poorer.
“These payments are the next part of the significant support we are providing through this challenging time, with millions of vulnerable households receiving £900 directly into their bank accounts this financial year alongside additional help for pensioners and those with disabilities.
“This latest payment will provide some temporary relief, but the best thing we can do to help families and businesses is to stick to the plan to halve inflation this year.”
More information about the government’s cost of living support and what is available can be found on helpforhouseholds.campaign.gov.uk.