£500 council tax, energy bill and cold weather payments – check what you get this winter

Cold Weather Payments: Guide to government-run scheme

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Tens of millions of Britons will get new support for this year’s energy bills and council tax, to help them survive the cost of living crisis. While the money is urgently needed, some of it will have to be clawed back, while other measures only have limited reach.

Here’s what’s available and who gets it.

Energy Bills Rebate. This will give around 28 million households an upfront £200 discount on their bills.

Energy suppliers will apply the discount to all electricity customers in England, Scotland and Wales, but not until October. Pre-pay customers should receive a voucher or payment through their smart meter.

Richard Neudegg, head of regulation at Uswitch.com, said it will only offer partial help, with the energy price cap hitting a staggering £1,971 from April 1.

However, the Government will recover the rebate from people’s bills in annual £40 automatic instalments over the next five years, starting in April 2023. “This is a loan, not a gift,” Neudegg says.

Another danger is that energy bills will stay high for longer than the Government expect, and that annual £40 payment will add to the burden.

Council tax rebate. Households in England in council tax bands A-D will receive a £150 rebate on their council tax bills. Local authorities will pay this directly from April, and it will not need to be repaid.

This one-off payment will benefit around 80 percent of all homes in England, or 20 million households, with help in Scotland and Wales, too. 

MoneySavingExpert.com founder Martin Lewis said this will target lower and middle-income households, but is far from perfect. “Some with high incomes will get help when others on low incomes will miss out.”

Discretionary funding. The Government will provide another £144 million of “discretionary funding” to support vulnerable people and individuals on low incomes who do not pay council tax, or who pay council tax for properties in Bands E-H. This will be allocated by local authorities.

Warm Home Discount. The Government plans to expand eligibility for the Warm Home Discount, which offers vulnerable energy customers a discount on energy bills. The payment has remained at £140 since 2014, but will increase to £150 from October. 

Low income retirees who claim Pension Credit automatically get the discount, but other low-income households must apply.

They will only get help if their energy supplier offers the scheme and there is still money available. Around two million could qualify in total, but not all will get it. The cash comes directly off your bill.

Cold weather payment. This pays £25 for each seven-day period of sub-zero temperatures between November 1 and March 31.

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The Cold Weather Payment goes to those on low incomes who receive benefits, including Pension Credit and Universal Credit.

Payments are usually awarded automatically but contact your local jobcentre or DWP office if you think you have missed out.

Nick Hill, money expert at the Money and Pensions Service, said if worried about missing gas or electricity payments, talk to your supplier to agree a payment plan. “It could review your bill, agree more affordable payment methods, give you a payment break or allow more time to repay.”

If you have already missed more than one payment and cannot come to an agreement with your supplier, contact MoneyHelper.org.uk for free, impartial debt advice, Hill said.

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