Help with heating costs
Staying warm and cosy in cold weather is important, but rising energy bills mean that the cost of heating the home can sometimes be a worry.
For older people, people on low incomes or in receipt of certain benefits, there are ways to get help with the cost of heating, particularly in the winter months when it's needed most.
Winter Fuel Payments (formerly called the Winter Fuel Allowance) are payments made towards the cost of heating bills to older people in the winter months.
You will normally qualify for a Winter Fuel Payment if you were born on or before 5 January 1952, and are resident in the UK. The amount you will receive will depend on your personal circumstances, including your age, which other benefits you are claiming and whether you live alone or with someone else.
Age UK offer additional information on Winter Fuel Payments.
Claiming your winter fuel payment
If you receive a State Pension, you don't need to do anything to claim your Winter Fuel Payment. It will be automatically paid to you along with your pension in November or December.
If you don't receive a State Pension, you will need to apply for your Winter Fuel Payment. You can also apply if you were eligible for Winter Fuel Payments in previous years but did not receive them.
The Warm Home Discount scheme provides those who are eligible with a one off discount on their energy bills during the winter. This payment doesn't affect any other payments you're eligible for to help with your energy bills.
You will qualify for a Warm Home Discount if you are over 75 and you receive the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit (regardless of whether you also get savings credit) or if you are under 75 and only get the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit and you don't get Savings Credit.
If you receive pension credit, income support, income-based job-seekers allowance, universal credit or income-related employment and support allowance and you meet certain eligibility criteria you may be entitled to cold weather payments. This is a set payment given for each block of 7 days during the winter where the temperature is recorded or forecasted at an average of 0 degrees Celsius or below.
If you receive winter fuel allowance and live in Kensington and Chelsea but feel you don't need it, you could help thousands of local elderly people living in fuel poverty through the Kensington & Chelsea Foundation.
If you would like to donate your winter fuel payment, please contact The Kensington & Chelsea Foundation on 020 7229 5499 or email firstname.lastname@example.org who will talk you through what to do.
The Foundation encourages and co-ordinates donations from individuals and companies and works with local charities including Age UK Kensington & Chelsea to ensure that donations reach those most in need. The Foundation relies on these local charity partners to help them decide on the criteria for donating money to individuals, to assess requests and to do follow up work.
You can go to our Claiming all of your benefits page for information on how to get support in claiming all of the benefits to which you are entitled.
If you’re in debt to your energy supplier, you might be able to get a grant from a charitable trust to help pay it off.
The following energy companies offer grants and schemes that are open to anyone - you don't have to be a customer:
There are also companies who offer grants specifically for their customers:
When you apply for a grant, you'll have to provide detailed information about your financial situation in your application. It could take a while to complete, and it might be worth getting help applying.
The government has produced a leaflet called Helping Consumers With Energy : Help towards lower bills and warmer homes.
The government's website tells allows you to find out whether you are eligible for help with your energy bills or to make your home more energy efficient.
Winter Home Insulation Guide for the Elderly is a guide written specifically with older people in mind as they are some of the most vulnerable of the population during winter time. It shares practical tips on home insulation, helpful advice to stay healthy and warm during the cold.
MSE’s Academy of Money - Free course to give you the skills and knowledge to master your finances. The course was written by The Open University, with MoneySavingExpert providing support and guidance.
Kensington and Chelsea
Homes4Health supports residents of Kensington and Chelsea who live in homes where there are problems with cold, poor insulation or damp, dangerous electrical installations, broken steps or banisters, or other issues which could pose a risk to the health of residents.
They can offer information and advice, and in some cases may be able to access grants to help you to improve the condition of your home.
Hammersmith and Fulham
Green Doctor is a partnership of London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham with Groundwork London to help make your home warmer, saving you money and improving your health. Green Doctor visits provide guidance on efficient energy usage in the home, understanding heating systems and installation of small energy measures.
A Warm Homes Advice Service is available to residents of Westminster, and provided by Groundwork. Green Doctors offer energy advice, small measures (draught proofing/changing light-bulbs), and potentially larger measures e.g. insulation. The service is available to anyone over the age of 65, on a low income or who has a long-term health condition or disability. The Green Doctors will also explain how to make your home energy efficient, install energy saving devices and offer impartial advice on switching energy providers.
The City of Westminster also has a Home Improvement Agency, which supports residents to maintain independence and live comfortably and safely in their own homes. This includes providing assistance with repairs, improvements and adaptations in your home as well as specific grants for helping victims of burglary and domestic violence.
If you would like to receive independent advice on housing, or on benefits, legal issues, accessing care and support, your rights as a carer, and a range of other issues, then you can contact Citizens Advice Westminster