Cold Weather Payment deadline looms – DWP urged to provide extra £500 boost to Britons
State pension: People 'rely on the DWP' to get sums right
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Despite this, some of the country’s leading charities and organisations are calling for an extra £500 to be awarded to vulnerable people through the scheme as a means of support. Cold Weather Payments are given to claimants if they are in receipt of certain qualifying benefits, such as Pension Credit and Universal Credit. A payment of £25 is given to each household who experience a seven day period of temperatures below zero degrees celsius.
In the last few months, at least one area in the UK has been able to qualify for three Cold Weather Payments which means eligible claimants were able to get a triple Cold Weather Payment worth £75.
However, the deadline for the Government scheme is set to close for this winter season and households will only have just over two weeks to potentially meet the eligibility criteria for this support.
The benefit scheme has been running from November 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022 for this year.
In light of the energy bill crisis, the temporary pause in the scheme has left many older households concerned about what support they could be entitled to.
READ MORE: Council tax reductions explained: Who is eligible to pay less and how to claim
Industry regulator Ofgem has confirmed that the average UK gas and electricity bill is set to rise by £693 next month.
A survey conducted by Age UK found that almost a quarter (24 percent) of older households in England will be in “fuel stress” when energy prices rise on April 1.
Fuel stress is the term used to describe households which spend over 10 percent of their after-tax income on energy bills to maintain an “adequate standard of warmth”, according to the charity.
In its latest report, Age UK is warning that this figure could rise to 35 percent of households if extra targeted support is not introduced by the Government.
The charity is proposing direct payments of up to £500 to Cold Weather Payments to help those who are struggling.
Furthermore, the group is calling for discretionary fund to be doubled £288million to allow more households to claim the discount
Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director of Age UK, explained :“The current energy price crisis is a nightmare for all of us, but particularly for older people on low and modest incomes.
“Many struggle at the best of times to manage on their state pension but the energy bill hikes we are now seeing pose a real threat to their standard of living.
“However frugal they are, as things stand they simply do not have enough money coming in to cope with such steep rises.”
She added: “Without a more generous package of support, targeted at those on low and modest incomes, there can be no doubt that hundreds of thousands more older people will be forced to cut back on heating, food, or other essentials, in the process putting their own health at risk.
“Some are saying that their anxiety about what is to come is already wearing them down.
“These are hugely worrying times, but there is more the Government could – and should – be doing to mitigate the risks for our older population who, for the sake of their health, need to keep adequately warm.
“It’s a sad fact that many pensioners live in older homes that are difficult and expensive to heat, increasing the risks to them of this energy price crisis.
“The Government must intervene to protect them from an unprecedented situation that has come about through no fault of their own.”
Previously speaking to Express.co.uk, a Government spokesperson said: “We are committed to supporting vulnerable households with heating their homes, which is why we have announced a £9.1billion support package to help families dealing with rising energy costs.
“Our winter fuel payments are supporting over 11 million pensioners with their energy bills and we are continuing to encourage those eligible for Pension Credit, and the wide range of other benefits available, to make a claim.”
Express.co.uk has approached the DWP for comment.
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