Eleven million are eligible for a Winter Fuel Payment, says Paul Lewis. Are you?

Don’t be left out in the cold this winter

Cropped shot of a senior couple spending quality time together at home

Are you entitled to a Winter Fuel Payment? If you were born on or before 5 October 1954, you almost certainly are.

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Most are paid automatically, but if you have not yet had yours it’s time to ask why not. The Winter Fuel Payment is normally £200 for people born between 28 September 1940 and 5 October 1954, and £300 for those born on or before 27 September 1940. The money is taxfree, not means-tested, and does not affect any other benefits. If two people are entitled at the same address, the payment is normally shared; if they are a couple and receive Pension Credit, the full amount is paid to one person. People living in care homes normally get half the full amount, but do not get the Winter Fuel Payment if they get Pension Credit.

If you qualify but have not had the payment before, you may need to claim, especially if you do not get a State Pension or other benefits. People born between 6 April 1954 and 5 October 1954, too young to qualify last year, should check to ensure they get it this winter. The deadline for all claims is 31 March. UK citizens who live in some European countries can get Winter Fuel Payment, as can some EU nationals who have worked and lived in the UK. If they have not had one before, they need to claim. However, people living in Cyprus, France, Gibraltar, Greece, Malta, Portugal or Spain do not qualify. More than 11 million people qualify, but this winter many say that the money did not reach their bank account as early as it did last year. The Department for Work and Pensions told Radio Times there were no delays and all should be paid during November and December. The DWP has admitted that 59,000 letters sent out informing people of their payment had included the wrong bank account details. Those affected had changed bank recently. The DWP assured RT that the payments would be made into the correct accounts. If your payment has not arrived by 13 January, or you have been paid the wrong amount, call the Winter Fuel Payment Centre on 0800 731 0160. Calls are free, but lines are very busy. For more information, search “Winter Fuel Payment” on gov.uk.

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Paul Lewis presents Money Box on Radio 4