Q. As winter is now upon us I keep hearing from friends and neighbours about support they get towards their fuel bills from various sources. I’m currently getting Income Support, I am aged 35, a single parent and have two children aged five and two. I also get Housing Benefit and live in a Housing Association property, my rent does not include anything towards fuel bills. Am I entitled to any sort of help?
A. Your age currently precludes you from being awarded the Winter Fuel Award, this is currently only payable to people aged 63 (although this age limit is subject to change) but there are other sources of help that you may be entitled to claim. The DWP can award a cold weather payment which is automatically made (no claim is required). You meet the main criteria due to the benefits you receive, the only other condition to meet is that, “There is a period of cold weather in the area that you live” that lasts seven consecutive days or more. If your local weather station records or forecasts temperatures at or below zero degrees Celsius then this is the benchmark. The DWP will of course check this information with the local weather station, no action is required on your part. The award is £25 a week for each week there is a period of cold weather You may also wish to check with your energy supplier to see if you are entitled to the Warm Home Discount. This is a scheme that is administered by your energy company and if you meet the criteria you will receive £140 towards your winter fuel bill. The criteria will vary from energy provider but they must meet a minimum standard set by the Energy Regulator. Contact them as soon as possible as the scheme may close due to over subscription and always remember to claim each year if you are entitled. You can find information about the scheme at www.gov.uk or via your own energy suppliers website (you should also be able to make an application on their website).