11,600,000 people to get up to £600 to help with energy bills from today

More than 11.6 million pensioners are set to get up to £600 in their bank accounts from today to help with spiralling energy costs.

People born before September 26, 1956, are eligible for the government’s ‘winter fuel payment’ which ranges from between £250 to £600.

The payment to help with heating bills has been boosted this year with an additional £150 to £300 one-off ‘pensioner’s cost-of-living’ cheque.

Cash will be automatically landing in people’s bank accounts over the next two months.

How much people receive will depend on their circumstances, while those eligible not needing to apply or do anything to receive it.

Though some people who do qualify for the winter fuel payment but do not receive benefits, a state pension and have never previously received a winter fuel payment might need to claim, the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) said.

Those who haven’t received the top-up by January 13 are asked to contact the Winter Fuel Payment Centre.

People should watch out for texts or emails from scammers inviting them to make applications.

The payment will appear with a reference starting with the person’s National Insurance number followed by ‘DWP WFP’ for people in Britain or ‘DFC WFP’ for those in Northern Ireland.

The payment is part of a small raft of tax-free government cheques that don’t count towards the benefits cap and don’t impact existing social welfare payments.

Alongside the pensioner’s cost-of-living payment, a further one million families on means-tested benefits will be sent a support payment of £324 from today.

This is the second half of the £650 cost of living payment that first landed in July.

Legacy benefits claimants, such as those on tax credits, are advised by the DWP that the second payment will be sent between today and November 30.

Work and pensions secretary Mel Stride said: ‘We want to do everything we can to support pensioners who are often the most exposed to higher costs.

‘That’s why we’re providing all pensioner households with an additional £300 on top of their Winter Fuel Payments to heat their homes and stay warm this winter.

‘This extra payment is just one part of the wider support package we’re delivering to help with rising bills, including the biggest State Pension increase in history.

‘Our support doesn’t stop here. As we deal with the impact of Putin’s illegal war in Ukraine and the aftermath of the pandemic, we will continue to stand by the most vulnerable, with further cost of living payments coming next year.’

Pensioners especially have been struggling with what a winter with biting cold temperatures will mean for them.

One told Metro.co.uk that she wears a Covid-19 face mask inside to stop the cold gnawing at her lungs.

‘You don’t think at 77 that you’re going to have all these problems. I’d imagined a retirement where I would be comfortable, warm, where I could see my kids and my grandkids,’ she said.

‘I’ve got none of that.’

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