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Winter fuel payment recipients urged to check details after 60,000+ letters with incorrect information sent out

Tens of thousands of people who are eligible for winter fuel payments are being urged to check their details after 60,000+ letters on the scheme were sent out with incorrect information, which in a small number of cases could affect how much you're paid. Here's what to watch out for and what you need to do.

People who were aged 66 and above on 5 October 2020 and lived in the UK for at least one day between 21 and 27 September 2020 are eligible for a one-off payment to help with heating bills through the winter. These are worth between £100 and £300 depending on your circumstances, and you'll usually get the money automatically between November and December, plus a letter confirming your estimated payment and the payment date.

But the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has confirmed to that tens of thousands of incorrect letters have been mistakenly sent this year. Its admission comes after we were contacted by several people whose letters either listed the wrong bank details or inaccurate entitlement information.

For more info on winter fuel payments, as well as other help available to cut your energy costs, see our Housing & Energy Grants guide.

What's the issue? 

There are two separate issues with winter fuel payment letters this year:

  • Almost 60,000 letters were sent out listing the wrong bank details. The DWP has confirmed that 59,000 letters had incorrect bank details in them. For example, one MoneySaver told us his letter said his payment would be sent to an account he'd closed more than two years previously. But crucially, the DWP insists payments will be made to the correct accounts.

  • Some additional letters included incorrect information about the level of payment people are entitled to. The DWP says the "vast majority" of letters will have the correct entitlement information in them, although it admitted it's not unusual for it to hold the wrong data about people, especially if you've recently moved house. For example, we've heard from MoneySavers whose letters said they would get a reduced payment as they lived with another eligible person – despite them living alone and being due the full amount.

I've received a letter with the incorrect info – what can I do?

The two issues we've seen around winter fuel payment letters are completely separate, and only one of them requires you to take action:

  • If your letter lists the wrong bank details, you don't need to do anything. The DWP insists people in this situation don't need to get in touch, as it says this error has been corrected and your payment will still be made to the correct account. Of course, it's still worth keeping an eye out for the payment – if you haven't received it by 13 January 2021, you should speak to your local benefits office.

  • If your letter lists the wrong eligibility, contact the DWP as soon as possible. Here, you do need to take action as it could mean you've been paid less than you're entitled to. See the table below to check your entitlement, and if it's wrong, contact the DWP using the details provided in your winter fuel payment letter.

Who can claim a winter fuel payment?

If you meet the age and residency criteria listed above, you'll be eligible for a winter fuel payment regardless of your income.

Those who get the state pension or another social security benefit – such as pension credit or income-related employment and support allowance – should receive it automatically, paid in the same way as the other benefit(s) you receive.

If you've not had the winter fuel payment before and don't get benefits or a state pension, or you only get universal credit, housing benefit, council tax reduction or child benefit, then you'll need to claim it. You can either apply by post or by calling the helpline on 0800 731 0160.

Here's how much you could get this winter:

Winter fuel payments 2020/21

Between 21-27 Sep 2020 you: Born between 28 Sep 1940-5 Oct 1954 Born on or before 27 Sep 1940
Lived alone (or none of the people you lived with qualify)
£200 £300
Lived with someone aged under 80 who also qualifies
£100 £200
Lived with someone aged 80 or over who also qualifies £100 £150
Lived in a care home but didn't receive pension credit, income support, jobseeker's allowance or income-related employment and support allowance
£100 £150

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