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Who is and isn't eligible for cost of living payments?

Yahoo News takes a look at who is entitled to a series of cost of living payments. (PA)
Yahoo News takes a look at who is entitled to a series of cost of living payments. (PA)

More than a quarter (27%) of people are behind with at least one bill, research for Citizens Advice has suggested.

And just over a fifth (21%) of people have borrowed money to pay for essentials such as groceries in the past six months, according to the charity.

It said that energy debts and council tax arrears are the most commonly encountered problem debt, with half (50%) of people helped by Citizens Advice reporting one or both of these debts.

The charity said it has been dealing with increasing numbers of people with a negative budget, with more money going out than coming in.

Amid the cost of living crisis, the government is providing extra payments to help people entitled to certain benefits or tax credits - with the latest due this autumn.

Here, Yahoo News UK explains who is eligible for the government's cost of living payments.

Read more:

What are the cost of living payments?

Between 25 April and 17 May, more than eight million households received a £301 cost of living payment from the government.

It was the first of three payments, totalling up to £900, for those eligible and on means-tested benefits, such as universal credit or pension credit, in 2023/24.

A second payment of £300 will be made in the autumn, with a third instalment of £299 scheduled for spring next year.

The Department for Work and Pensions will send payments directly to recipients’ bank accounts, with a reference of their national insurance number followed by “DWP COL”.

Meanwhile, there have also been payments of £150 for eligible people with disabilities and £300 for pensioners, meaning some people will receive up to £1,350.

Who is eligible for the payments?

The cost of using a gas hob will rise by more than £100 a year. (Yahoo News UK)
Cost of living payments have been introduced amid rising energy and food costs. (Yahoo News UK)

You may be entitled to up to three cost-of-living payments if you get any of the following benefits or tax credits on certain dates:

  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)

  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

  • Income Support

  • Pension Credit

  • Universal Credit

  • Child Tax Credit

  • Working Tax Credit

The credits will be made separately from regular benefit payments, and those who are eligible don't have to apply as the payments will be made automatically.

Some more details...

Universal Credit: You would have been eligible for the first cost of living payment if you were entitled to a Universal Credit payment (or later found to be entitled) for an assessment period ending 26 January to 25 February this year.

Income-based JSA, Income-based ESA, Income Support and Pension Credit: If you were entitled to one of these payments for any day between 26 January and 25 February, you will also have been eligible for the first £301 payment.

If you were entitled to one of these benefits during the period but did not receive a payment because your entitlement is between 1 and 9 pence, you'll still be eligible for the support payment.

Tax credits: If you received a payment of tax credits for any day in the period of 26 January to 25 February or are later found to have been entitled for this period, you will have been eligible for the first cost of living payment.

What if you haven't received your payment?

Most people should have received their £301 cost of living payment, but anyone who hasn't seen it in their bank accounts can report it as missing.

This can be done on the government website here.

A shopping trolley is seen at a supermarket in Manchester, Britain, March 22, 2023. The United Kingdom's UK consumer price index CPI rose to 10.4 percent in the 12 months to February 2023 from 10.1 percent in January, the Office for National Statistics ONS said on Wednesday. (Photo by Jon Super/Xinhua via Getty Images)
Millions of people are set to receive the latest cost of living payment. (Getty Images)

Claimants will need their National Insurance number. The government advises: "Before reporting a missing payment, check your bank, building society or credit union account, or your Payment Exception Service voucher receipt. The payment will be made separately from your benefit."

Who is not eligible?

Anyone whose benefit is reduced to £0 for the qualifying period (sometimes known as a "nil award") won't be eligible for the support payment.

This can happen if you got more than one payment of earnings in a Universal Credit assessment period, if your partner's earnings or savings increased, if you started receiving another benefit, or if you got a "sanction" for not following the rules.

Read more: Experts demand universal credit overhaul during cost of living crisis (from April)

If your benefit is reduced to £0 you could still be eligible if money was taken off for other reasons, such as payments of rent to your landlord or for money that you owe.

You could still be entitled if you had a hardship payment after a sanction left you unable to pay for rent, heating, food or hygiene needs.