Cost of living: What payments are available and how do you claim?

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Some groups will be eligible for payments of up to £900 to help with their energy bills from April 2023.

Low-income households, pensioners and some disabled people should have now received their cost-of-living payments for 2022.

Everyone's energy bill is also already being cut by at least £400 this winter.

What cost-of-living payments will be available in 2023?

From April, some groups will receive payments to help with energy costs:

  • £900 in total in three instalments in spring, autumn and spring 2024 to households on means-tested benefits (the same payments listed above)
  • £300 for pensioner households in the winter
  • £150 to people on certain disability benefits, paid in the summer

The government says it will publish more information about the exact timing of the payments.

What cost-of-living payments have people already received?

Two payments totalling £650 have been made to more than eight million low-income households.

The first instalment of £326 was paid between 14 and 31 July. The second instalment of £324 should have reached those eligible by the end of December.

They are available to households who receive the following benefits:

  • Universal Credit
  • income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • working tax credit
  • child tax credit
  • pension credit

The payment reference on the recipients' bank accounts was their national insurance number, followed by "DWP COL".

The 1.1 million people who receive only tax credits, rather than any of the other benefits received their second instalment between 23 and 30 November, straight into their bank accounts with the payment reference "HMRC COLS". Their first payment was paid in September.

People were not eligible for these payments if they receive New Style Employment and Support Allowance, contributory Employment and Support Allowance, or New Style Jobseeker's Allowance - unless they get Universal Credit.

Media caption,

Worried about energy bills? The BBC's Colletta Smith tells you - in a minute - about four discounts and payments that could help

Anyone who thinks they should have received the help but did not should contact the office that pays their benefit or tax credits, or report it here.

To qualify for the latest instalment, people had to have been claiming a benefits payment between 26 August and 25 September, with the exception of pensioner households, who may be able to have a new Pension Credit claim backdated.

An estimated 850,000 pensioner households do not claim Pension Credit, which is a gateway to these extra payments.

None of these cost-of-living payments affect the tax you pay, or the benefits or tax credits you receive.

What other support is available?

This is being applied over six months, with a £66 reduction in October and November, and a £67 discount every month between December and March 2023.

The discount will be made automatically by energy suppliers in England, Scotland and Wales. There is no need to apply or to give extra information.

Direct debit and credit customers will have the money added to their account or automatically to their bank account.

Customers with prepayment meters will have the amount applied to their meter, or receive a voucher. However, many people have not received or redeemed these vouchers and may have missed out.

Anyone who does not use mains gas and electricity - such as those using heating oil - gets an extra £100 on top of the £400.

Separate arrangements are being made for households in Northern Ireland, which has its own energy market. They will receive a single payment of £600 starting in January, which is higher than the rest of the UK because a higher proportion of households use heating oil.

Direct debit customers in Northern Ireland will have the money paid into their bank accounts. Other customers will be sent a voucher.

What help are disabled people getting?

Up to six million people on the following disability benefits started to receive £150 on 20 September and all should have received the money:

  • Disability Living Allowance
  • Personal Independence Payment
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Scottish Disability Payments
  • Armed Forces Independence Payment
  • Constant Attendance Allowance
  • War Pension Mobility Supplement

What extra help will pensioners get?

Households that receive the Winter Fuel Payment - which is worth £200-£300 and is paid to nearly all homes with at least one person of pension age - should have received an extra £300 in November or December.

That should cover nearly all pensioners across the UK.

Lower-income pensioners who claim pension credit will receive the money in addition to the £650 support for those on benefits.

This means a small group of pensioners with disabilities will receive a total of £1,500.

What other payments have been made?

About 80% of households should have received a £150 energy rebate, often through their council tax bill.

The payment method is depended on whether you pay your council tax by direct debit and where you live in the UK.

Some people were given fuel vouchers through the Household Support Fund, which is distributed by local councils.

What else is the government doing to tackle energy prices?

The government launched an energy price guarantee in October 2022, which limits a typical duel-fuel household's annual energy bill to £2,500.

It is not a cap on how much customers actually pay - your bill depends on how much energy you actually use.

The scheme was initially designed to last for two years, but was then reduced to six months.

However, the government confirmed the guarantee will continue after April 2023, but will increase to £3,000.

The plan applies to all households in England, Scotland and Wales, with the "same level of support" available in Northern Ireland.

What about help for businesses?

The government also announced a scheme to cut energy bills for businesses, for six months from October to March 2023.

Support for firms in the subsequent 12 months will be much less generous.

Heavy energy-using sectors, like glass, ceramics and steelmakers, will get a larger discount than others.

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