Cost of living payments start with pensioners urged to check their eligibility for more support


More than 8 million households will get the first of the latest tranche of cost of living support from 14 July, with £326 hitting people’s bank accounts between the 14 and 30 July. Low income households who are on certain benefits will be eligible for the payments, although they need to have been entitled to them before 25 May this year.

While the handout will be welcomed by many, with news that energy bills are set to leap by another £1,300 a year in October, petrol prices still at record highs and people having to severely cut back on their weekly food shop, that money will disappear quickly in a lot of homes.

More help is coming later this year, with the £150 payout for people on certain disability benefits arriving in September, while October will see the start of the £400 energy bill rebate for all UK households. Before the end of the year all pensioner households will get an extra £300 on their Winter Fuel Payments.

The reality now is that the Government is likely to revisit the cost of living support in light of a far higher expected increase in energy bills this winter. The £400 handout was based on energy prices rising to around £2,800 in October. With the latest estimates putting bills at closer to £3,400 by January, that’s a gulf for many UK homes to try and fill – and one that the Government might have to help them plug.

Pensioners missing out on extra support

However, almost a million pensioner households could be unnecessarily struggling to pay the bills this winter if they aren’t signed up to receive pension credit when they’re entitled to do so. The Government estimates 850,000 households are eligible for the benefit but don’t claim it, meaning they miss out on potentially thousands of pounds from the benefit, as well as the full £650 cost of living support payment this year.

The rule of thumb is that any pensioners who have an income of less than £200 a week should check whether they are entitled to more support, either through the Government pension credit website or free-to-use pension credit calculators from charities such as Turn2Us or Citizens Advice.

An added incentive for those who are eligible for pension credit but not claiming it, is that they can backdate their claim for three months. This means they get a windfall payment for their missing benefits but, crucially, will also be eligible for the full £650 of cost of living support.

Beware the scammers

The start of the payments on 14 July means scammers will be ramping up their activity to prey on those low-income households who are due to receive support. As soon as the Government announced the cost of living support package, scammers will have whirred into action to ruthlessly use the payouts for their own gain. And it’s a cruel reality that many people will end up being scammed out of much more money than they will receive in the Government support.

The cost of living payout will automatically go into your bank account, so you should have no need to hand over any details to anyone. You should never respond to a call out of the blue about the cost of living payment and you will never have to pay a fee to process the claim. Anyone who says they can claim it on your behalf is a scammer and should be ignored. The same is true for emails or texts claiming to need information or details in order to process a claim. If you have any queries about the payment you should contact the office that pays your benefits

These articles are for information purposes only and are not a personal recommendation or advice.

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Written by:
Laura Suter

Laura Suter is head of personal finance at AJ Bell. She is a multi-award winning former financial journalist, having specialised in investments. Laura joined AJ Bell from the Daily Telegraph, where she was investment editor. She has previously worked for adviser publications Money Marketing and Money Management, and has worked for an investment publication in New York. She has a degree in Journalism Studies from University of Sheffield.