The benefit helped ensure pensioners were able to stay warm during the coldest spells of last winter, with a one-off payment of between £100 and £300 to help towards the cost of heating their homes.
The government’s commitment to protect the elderly by maintaining universal pensioner benefits means that nearly 9 million households were helped by the scheme, with 6.7 million women and 5.7 million men benefiting. In total, more than £2.1 billion was paid out.
Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith MP, said:
Winter can be hard for older people, particularly those who are vulnerable, and they should have the confidence to turn up the heating when they need to, safe in the knowledge that they will be able to afford to pay the bill.
Winter Fuel Payments give people this peace of mind and remain central to our one nation commitment of a compassionate society which puts economic security at its heart.
On top of Winter Fuel Payments, around 2 million households also receive help each year through the Warm Home Discount scheme. This year’s payment is giving more than 1.3 million of the poorest pensioners an extra £140 off their energy bill.
The government also provides Cold Weather Payments of £25 a week, giving an additional layer of support for vulnerable people in low-income groups during the very coldest snaps.
As well as UK recipients, an additional 140,000 expat pensioners living in the European Economic Area or Switzerland also received a payment, costing a total of £24.5 million.
In winter 2015 to 2016 you will qualify for Winter Fuel Payments if:
People may qualify for a payment if they live in Switzerland or a European Economic Area (EEA) country and have a genuine link with the UK. This year new rules are being introduced and Winter Fuel Payments will no longer be payable to people in EEA countries which have an average winter temperature that is higher than the warmest region of the UK. This includes people living in Cyprus, France, Gibraltar, Greece, Malta, Portugal or Spain.