Pensioners to receive up to £600 in winter support - who is eligible and how to claim

Up to £600 in cost-of-living payments is starting to land in pensioners’ bank accounts. We explain who qualifies and what to do if you don’t receive the cash.

Portrait of a senior man sitting on the sofa reading a newspaper
(Image credit: Getty Images)

About 11.5 million UK pensioners are starting to receive payments from the government “to help with energy bills this winter”.

Pensioner cost-of-living payments worth up to £300 will be made automatically as part of winter fuel payments. These follow the £300 payments already made to households on certain benefits, including Pension Credit

In total, pensioners will receive a boost of up to £600 to their finances this autumn and winter.

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We explain everything you need to know about the payments, and what to do if you don’t receive them.

Winter fuel payments to increase by up to £300 

If you’re above state pension age, you’ll get a pensioner cost-of-living payment this winter. The vast majority will receive this as a top-up to their winter fuel payment.

Pensioners get a winter fuel payment if they were born before 25 September 1957. They also usually need to live in the UK. 

The cost-of-living payment is worth either £150 or £300. A pensioner living alone will get £300, while a cohabiting pensioner couple will get £150 each.

You should receive a letter - if you haven't already - telling you how much your total winter fuel payment will be. 

The payments will land in bank accounts over the next two months, the vast majority automatically.

Mel Stride, the work and pensions secretary, said the extra money was about supporting “pensioners who may be facing particular challenges over the colder months”.

The cash will appear on bank statements with the payment reference starting with the customer’s National Insurance number followed by ‘DWP WFP’ for people in Great Britain, or ‘DFC WFP’ for people in Northern Ireland.

Most winter fuel payments are paid automatically but some people will need to make a claim, such as those who qualify but do not receive benefits or the state pension and have never previously received a winter fuel payment. Or, if you have got a winter fuel payment before, but have now deferred your state pension or moved to Switzerland or an EEA country, you will also need to claim the payment yourself.

You can claim by phone (0800 731 0160) or by post - more details on the winter fuel payment government site.

If you’re expecting an automatic payment, this should land in your current account in November or December. If you still have not received the money by 26 January 2024, contact the Winter Fuel Payment Centre.

£300 cost-of-living payment for those receiving Pension Credit 

More than seven million households recently received cost-of-living payments worth £300. This latest payment is the second of up to three cost-of-living payments being made this financial year. The grants are tax-free and do not have any impact on existing benefit awards.

You’re eligible for this money if you receive child tax credit, income-based jobseeker's allowance, income-related employment and support allowance, income support, Pension Credit, Universal Credit or working tax credit.

Payments are automatic and you don’t need to apply. The government finished making the payments on 19 November.

However, those who are about to apply for one of the above benefits may still be able to qualify.

For example, if you’re eligible for Pension Credit and apply by 10 December and request for it to be backdated, you'll get the £300 payment automatically once your claim is approved.

An estimated 880,000 pensioners are missing out on Pension Credit, so it’s definitely worth checking if you’re entitled to this benefit (which is worth around £3,900 a year on average and unlocks other benefits, such as council tax reductions, help with energy costs plus the £300 cost-of-living payment if you apply by 10 December).

If you think you should have received the £300 payment but it hasn’t arrived in your bank account yet, an online portal is now available.

To report this missing payment, input your full name, date of birth, address and National Insurance number. 

Most people, if found to be eligible, should receive their payment within two weeks of completing the form. The portal will remain open until 11 December.

The third and final cost-of-living payment of £299 will be made by spring 2024 for eligible households on benefits (including Pension Credit).

Ruth Emery

Ruth is passionate about helping people feel more confident about their finances. She was previously editor of Times Money Mentor, and prior to that was deputy Money editor at The Sunday Times. 

A multi-award winning journalist, Ruth started her career on a pensions magazine at the FT Group, and has also worked at Money Observer and Money Advice Service. 

Outside of work, she is a mum to two young children, a magistrate and an NHS volunteer.