The Social fund can help those on a low income with certain expenses. During the winter months, it is no secret that heating in the British home is somewhat of a necessity, but that doesn’t stop it from costing an arm and a leg to fund. This is where the Social Fund helps. If you are entitled, funding will be provided for your heating that does not require repayment and will be paid into the same account that receives your benefit payments. The scheme was put in place on the 1st November 2015 and continued until the 31st March, where people were given £25 per week to help with their heating bills. The scheme is due to start again on the 1 November 2016, and plans to run for the same period of time.
How does it work?
It’s all very technical, but in a nutshell, it has to be cold, hence The Cold Weather Payment. Those that are entitled will have their postcode area linked to a weather station and payments are then made when there is going to be periods of cold weather. The requirements for the payment are when the weather station forecasts seven consecutive days with an average daily temp of 0 degrees Celsius (or less). This more than likely means that during the winter months, there are certainly people that will be entitled to the payment. There has, however, been some criticism of the scheme, because some areas of Britain may be cold enough to receive a payment that week, while others may not. For example, in some areas of Kent, it may be at or below zero for seven days, requiring payment, where in close by Sussex, there might be a day during the week that takes the average temperature to above zero, meaning that it is ‘too warm’ to require a payment. Just the luck of the draw.
Who is entitled?
If you currently claim income, universal credit or income based Jobseeker’s Allowance then it is likely that you will be entitled to the Cold Weather Payment, in the next winter. Before we go any further, it is worth noting that the payments are not to be confused with Winter Fuel Payments. These are also a type of funding but are made to people above state pension age – whatever the weather. Another thing worth noting is that the Cold Weather Payment is based purely on income, and not savings, and you don’t need to go through the hassle of putting in a claim.
Other weather based entitlements
It doesn’t just stop at funds for heating, and there are other schemes available to keep your house cosy. Financial assistance is also provided through something called the Warm Front Scheme. With this, the government have aimed to tackle fuel poverty by providing grants for loft insulation, draught-proofing, wall insulation, gas heaters, central heating and hot water tanks. This might be offered to those living in poorly insulated properties, with no central heating system.
If your energy bills are becoming unmanageable, or have left you struggling after the cold winter, there is also another aptly named programme in place; the Warm home Discount. This is where rebates are provided on already paid energy bills. 2014-15 saw homes that qualified receive a bill rebate of £140. Instead of just receiving this in cash, the rebate comes in the form of a discount and should contribute towards settling any existing bills.