Preparing for winter
Posted by Kelly Duke on 16th November 2011
With temperature beginning to dip people start to turn their minds to heating and the increasing costs of keeping warm. The government try to help those who may find the additional financial expenditure a burden and therefore it is important to ensure that you are receiving all that you are entitled to.
For the 2011/2012 winter you will be eligible to receive a winter fuel payment from the government if you were born before 5 January 1951 or if you normally live in Great Britain on any day in the week of 19 to 25 September 2011. You will not be eligible for winter fuel payments if, during this week, you were in hospital and had been for more than 52 weeks previously, were serving a sentence in prison, were subject to immigration control or lived in a care home and were in receipt of pension credit, income based employment support allowance or income based job seekers allowance. The criteria have changed from previous years due to budgetary cuts. If you are in receipt of state pension or certain benefits you do not need to apply for winter fuel payments it will automatically be processed for you. You may need to apply for winter fuel payments if you are not in receipt of state pension or certain benefits. This can be done by completing the application form that can be found on www.direct.gov.uk.
Winter fuel payments are paid to the household and will be paid in the same way that you receive your state pension or benefits. If your application is successful payments will be made between November and December 2011. You can, if you have not claimed before and were eligible, make a retrospective claim for the years 1997/1998 to 1999/2000 but will not be able to claim from 2000/2001 as a time limit for claims was introduced. Payments will vary according to your personal circumstances but could range from £100 to £300.
In addition to winter fuel payments you may be entitled to receive an additional cold weather payment of £25. If you are in receipt of certain benefits and the temperature drops to below an average of 0 degrees for seven consecutive days or is forecast to be below an average of 0 degrees for seven consecutive days between 1 November and 31 March an additional payment will be made. Payments should be credited to you within fourteen days of the cold weather spell.
The government also provide grants for insulation and draft proofing under their Warm Front Scheme up to the value of £3,000. This is a means tested grant and not everyone will be eligible for assistance. A means tested assessment will be carried out along with a technical survey by a Warm Front engineer to determine the level of improvements that need to be made to your property. If approved for the scheme improvements should be completed within five months from the date of approval.