Pensioners relying on benefits ‘struggling’ due to lack of Cold Weather Payment triggers
Therese Coffey outlines the benefits of Pension Credit scheme
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Many people rely on support from benefits such as the Cold Weather Payment to help them pay their heating bills. Just under four million people qualify for Cold Weather Payments, with over 1.3 million of these being eligible through Pension Credit.
Pension Credit is a benefit available to state pension age Britons who are on a low income.
However, between November 1 2021 and January 28, 2022, only 13,000 Cold Weather Payments were estimated to have been issued.
These were all paid out to people in Scotland, where there were a total of six cold weather triggers over the Christmas period.
Cold Weather Payments are issued to people on benefits such as Pension Credit and Universal Credit to help them cope with the cost of heating their home during the coldest months of the year.
A payment is made if the average temperature in an area is recorded as, or forecast to be, zero degrees celsius or below over seven consecutive days.
£25 is paid for each seven-day period of very cold weather between November 1 and March 31.
However, due to a mild winter, a low number of payments have been made.
Helen Morrissey, senior pensions and retirement analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, explained the impact of people missing out on these payments.
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She said: “Winter has yet to truly bite with only six Cold Weather Payment triggers so far this year, but this will come as little comfort to those worried about meeting surging energy costs.
“Energy prices have been on the rise and look to go up still further.”
Ofgem announced earlier this week that from April, the energy price cap will rise by £693.
The increase will take the cap up to £1,971.
Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, has confirmed the Government will extend the Warm Home Discount scheme, which he said will allow three million households to benefit from the scheme.
The Warm Home Discount provides a one-off, £140 discount on people’s electricity bills each winter.
Pension Credit recipients are also a key group who rely on the Warm Home Discount, as people who receive the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit are automatically eligible for it.
The discount is usually issued between October and March each winter.
Another benefit which pensioners may be able to claim is the Winter Fuel Payment.
This provides between £100 and £300 to help with heating bills to people born on or before September 26, 1955, and is also available to people on Pension Credit.
Ms Morrissey continued: “Many people will have been banking on these payments to help them heat their homes over the coming months and could struggle to make ends meet without them.
“While we should be grateful that the weather has not been colder, we could still see people fall ill because they haven’t been able to adequately heat their homes as they are forced to make difficult decisions to deal with the rising cost of living.”
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