Cost-of-living payments: Who is getting them and when?

·5 min read
Woman kissing baby
Woman kissing baby

Millions of people are receiving payments to help with higher bills, with more to come.

Low-income households, pensioners and some disabled people are entitled to additional cost-of-living funds after the government extended a scheme it launched in 2022.

A committee of MPs is currently investigating whether the payments are supporting those most in need.

What cost-of-living payments are available?

Some groups will receive payments to help with higher bills, including:

  • £900 in total in three instalments in spring, autumn and spring 2024 to households on means-tested benefits

  • £300 for pensioner households in the winter

  • £150 to people on certain disability benefits

The first instalment of £301 for those on means-tested benefits, which started to be paid on 25 April, has now been received by about eight million people.

Who is eligible for the £900 payment?

The payment, in three instalments, is 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 a recipient's bank account 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, were paid slightly later than others, with these payments beginning on 2 May.

People are 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.

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 claimed a benefits payment between 26 January and 25 February 2023, or received a payment for an assessment period ending between these dates. Pensioner households 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.

Other eligibility details are outlined here.

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

What help are disabled people getting?

Up to six million people on the following disability benefits are receiving another £150:

  • Disability living allowance

  • Personal independence payment

  • Attendance allowance

  • Scottish disability payments

  • Armed Forces independence payment

  • Constant attendance allowance

  • War pension mobility supplement

Those payments should be made between 20 June and 4 July.

What help are pensioners getting?

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 2022, and will get another £300 this coming winter.

Lower-income pensioners who claim pension credit get the money in addition to the support provided for those on benefits.

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

Two payments totalling £650 were made in 2022 to more than eight million low-income households.

Payments of £300 were also paid to pensioners during the winter, and a £150 payment was also made to those with disabilities.

Some people would have received all of those payments, if they were eligible.

What other support have people had?

A £150 rebate, often through people's council tax bill, was made last year. The Household Support Fund, which is distributed by local councils, helped vulnerable people, including giving fuel vouchers to those in need.

All household energy bills were cut by at least £400 between October and March.

The discount was made automatically by energy suppliers in England, Scotland and Wales. However, there are no plans to repeat this in winter 2023.

Separate arrangements were made for households in Northern Ireland, which has its own energy market.

They received a single payment of £600 starting in January, which was more than in the rest of the UK because a higher proportion of households use heating oil.

Direct debit customers in Northern Ireland had the money paid into their bank accounts. Other customers were sent a voucher.

Cost of living: Tackling it together
Cost of living: Tackling it together

What is the inquiry by MPs all about?

The Commons Work and Pensions Committee is investigating whether cost-of-living payments have been received by those in most need of help.

They are studying whether some have missed out on hundreds of pounds because they are just outside the qualifying criteria, and whether the package as a whole is sufficient for low-income families.

What else is the government doing to tackle energy prices?

The government launched an Energy Price Guarantee in October 2022, which currently limits a typical dual-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, which applies to England, Wales and Scotland, was initially designed to last for two years, but was then reduced to six months.

However, the government has confirmed the guarantee will continue until July, when a typical bill will fall to around £2,074 a year under regulator Ofgem's energy price cap.

What about help for businesses?

A government scheme to cut energy bills for businesses finished at the end of March.

Under a new scheme that began in April, firms get a discount on wholesale prices rather than costs being capped as under the previous deal.

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

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