Guide to = Government Special Payments
Helping and looking after your clients and ensuring they are happy, content and can pay their bills with the most support and knowledge possible is going to help them understand and appreciate just how much you care.
These are some helpful ways to look after them and ideal to mention these either on a courtesy follow message or a Bill Review.
Priority Services Register
The register is free to join and if UW classes the Customer as ‘vulnerable’ then the Customer will get priority and extra support if required.
The Customer could be classed as vulnerable if they:
- Are disabled or have a long-term health condition
- Are recovering from an injury
- Have mental health problems
- Hearing or speech impaired
- Don’t speak or read English well
- Have children under 5 or are pregnant
- Have reached their State Pension age (67 years+)
- Have a carer
- If the situation isn’t listed, the Customer might still be able to sign up for priority services for other reasons – for example, if they are recently bereaved or have returned to living independently after some time in residential care.
This entitles the customer to:
- Priority reconnection if there is a power cut.
- A free gas safety check
- Possible free repositioning of meters if inaccessible and quarterly meter readings.
- Large print/audio bills or paper bills if there are communication difficulties.
- Specialist controls and adapters for gas appliances.
How to apply:
Call the UW Customer Services team. The customer will need to answer some questions and apply, or can go online to HMRC and sign up. The information is stored on the register and is only passed on to 3rd parties who may need to help eg Gas engineers etc.
Winter Fuel Payment
A Winter Fuel Payment (between £100 and £300) is a one-off, tax-free payment made during the winter to help with heating costs and does not affect other benefits.
The customer qualifies for a Winter Fuel Payment if both the following apply:
- They were born on or before 5 October 1954
- They lived in the UK for at least one day during the week of 21 to 27 September 2020 – this is called the ‘qualifying week
There are certain disqualifications such as being in hospital, in prison or a care home.
How to claim:
The Winter Fuel Payment is automatic if the Customer is eligible.
The Customer will need to claim it if they have not had it before and any of the following apply:
- They do not get benefits or a State Pension
- They only get Universal Credit, Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction or Child Benefit
- They get benefits or a State Pension but live in Switzerland or an EEA country
The Customer will also need to claim Winter Fuel Payment if they have deferred their State Pension, even if they had it before. They only need to do this once.
How to apply:
If the customer is eligible but is not paid automatically, they will need to make a claim by calling the GOV.UK helpline on 0800 731 0160 or on the Government website. The deadline for claiming payments for winter 2020 to 2021 is 31 March 2021.
Warm Home discount
Warm Home Discount applications open 12th October 2020 and closes on 31st March 2021The Customer could get £140 off their electricity bill for winter under the Warm Home Discount Scheme.
The money is not paid to the customer – it’s a one-off discount on the electricity bill, between September and March. The Customer may be able to get the discount on their gas bill instead if the energy supplier provides both gas and electricity. Contact UW to find out. Not all suppliers participate in this scheme – UW does.
The discount will not affect their Cold Weather Payment or Winter Fuel Payment.
There are 2 ways to qualify for the Warm Home Discount Scheme:
- The Customer gets the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit – known as the ‘core group’
- The Customer is on a low income and meet the energy supplier’s criteria for the scheme – known as the ‘broader group’ eg Income support, Job Seeker Allowance, Universal Credits, Gross income of less than £19190, and STATE PENSION
How to apply:
- The Customer needs to Login to their Clubhouse (www.uw.co.uk/clubhouse).
- Scroll down to the very bottom of the screen to the small print section and you will see a heading called “Warm Home Discount”.
- The Customer can apply from there by selecting the benefits they are in receipt of and then submit their request.
For more information or to ensure you are on the right benefit.
The customer needs to apply by 12th October 2020
DWP – 0800 917 1003 – If “UnMatched” which means DWP doesn’t or may not know you are eligible or they don’t know who your Energy Provider is and therefore can’t make payment to them.
DWP – 0800 731 0214 – If “Matched” which means DWP knows you are eligable and who your Energy Provider is to automatically make the payment.
DWP – 0800 169 0310 – Is a number to call to ensure you have the right pension/benefit.
The line does not open until mid July. More information is available through UW and at www.gov.co.uk
Cold Weather Payment
Customers will get a payment if the average temperature in their area is recorded as, or forecast to be, zero degrees Celsius or below over 7 consecutive days. They will get £25 for each 7 day period of very cold weather between 1 November and 31 March.
They may get a Cold Weather Payment if they’re getting:
- Pension Credit
- Income Support
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Universal Credit
- Support for Mortgage Interest
Cold Weather Payments are different to Winter Fuel Payments.
How to claim:
A customer does not need to apply. If they’re eligible to get a Cold Weather Payment, then it will be paid automatically.
More information can be found on the Government website.
Check Benefit Entitlement:
They provide financial support to help people get back on track.
*All credit to Juliet Besly for being willing to put the above idea and information in a central resource for us all to benefit from. This has been added to since and is a great idea for us all to benefit from.