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Cost of Living Support - Extra help for people on the lowest incomes

The government has announced extra help with the cost of living for 2023/2024.

Last reviewed 22 January 2024

Extra help for people on the lowest incomes

The following information is available in this guide:

Cost of living payments during 2023/2024

The cost of living payment is £900 and paid in three instalments across the year:

You may be entitled if you get any of the following benefits or tax credits on certain dates:

Eligibility criteria for £299 payment (third instalment)

You will be eligible for £299, if:

  • You were on Universal Credit and got a payment (or later found to be entitled to a payment) of any amount over 1p for an assessment period that ended between 13 November 2023 to 12 December 2023.
  • You were on another qualifying benefit (see above) and you got any amount of payment (or later found to be entitled to a payment) of that benefit between 13 November 2023 to 12 December 2023. This includes if you were entitled to one of these benefits for any day during this period but did not receive a benefit payment because your entitlement was between 1 penny and 9 pence. 
  • Pension Credit can be backdated for three months. This means you have until 5 March 2024 to put in an application for Pension Credit and be entitled to the third instalment os the Cost of Living payment. 

You're not eligible for the Cost of Living payment if your benefit is reduced to £0 for the qualifying period or your tax credits entitlement for the tax year is below £26, except if one of the following applies:

  • Your entitlement reduced to £0 for other reasons, such as payments of rent to your landlord or for money that you owe.
  • You had a hardship payment because you got a sanction and could not pay rent, heating, food or hygiene needs. 

If you have received a Universal Credit Migration Notice letter, moving to Universal Credit will not affect your eligibility for Cost of Living payments. 

How do I claim it?

You do not need to claim it. It is paid automatically if you've qualified for it. The payment is made separately from your benefit payments. 

When and how will it be paid?

It is paid the same way you usually get your benefits paid. 

The third payment of Cost of Living £299 will be paid between 6 February and 22 February 2024 for most people. For tax credits only claimants, this payment will be made between 16 and 22 February 2024.

Report a missing £299 Cost of Living Payment

If you're entitled and do not receive this payment, you will be able to report the missing payment online from 23 February 2024. 

Eligibility criteria for £300 payment (second instalment)

You are eligible for the second payment of £300, if:

  • You were on Universal Credit and got a payment (or later found to be entitled to a payment) of any amount over 1p for an assessment period that ended between 18 August 2023 to 17 September 2023. 
  • You were on another qualifying benefit (see above) and you got any amount of payment (or later found to be entitled to a payment) of that benefit between 18 August 2023 to 17 September 2023. This includes if you were entitled to one of these benefits for any day during this period but did not receive a benefit payment because your entitlement was between 1 penny and 9 pence. 
  • Pension Credit can be backdated for three months. This means you had until 10 December 2023 to put in an application for Pension Credit and be entitled to the second instalment of the Cost of Living payment. 

You're not eligible for the Cost of Living Payment if your benefit is reduced to £0 for the qualifying period or your tax credits entitlement for the tax year is below £26, except if one of the following applies:

  • Your entitlement reduced to £0 for other reasons, such as payments of rent to your landlord or for money that you owe. 
  • You had a hardship payment because you got a sanction and could not pay rent, heating, food or hygiene needs. 

If you have received a Universal Credit Migration Notice letter, moving to Universal Credit will not affect your eligibility for Cost of Living payments. 

How do I claim it?

You do not need to claim it. It is paid automatically if you've qualified for it. The payment is made separately from your benefit payments. 

When and how will it be paid?

It is paid the same way you usually get your benefits paid. 

The second payment of Cost of Living £300 was paid between 31 October and 19 November 2023 for most people. For tax credits only claimants, this payment was made between 10 and 19 November 2023.

Report a missing £300 Cost of Living Payment 

The second payment £300 of Cost of Living Payment was paid between 31 October and 19 November 2023 for most qualified people. 

If you think you should have received a payment and have not, you can report the missing payment online.

Eligibility criteria for £301 (first instalment)

You were eligible for the first payment of £301, if:

  • You were on Universal Credit and got a payment (or later found to be entitled to a payment) of any amount over 1p for an assessment period that ended between 26 January 2023 and 25 February 2023.
  • You were on another qualifying benefit (see above) and you got any amount of payment (or later found to be entitled to a payment) of that benefit between 26 January 2023 and 25 February 2023. This includes if you were entitled to one of these benefits for any day during this period but did not receive a benefit payment because your entitlement was between 1 penny and 9 pence. 

You were not be eligible for the Cost of Living Payment if your benefit is reduced to £0 for the qualifying period or your tax credits entitlement for the tax year is below £26, except if one of the following applies:

  • Your entitlement reduced to £0 for other reasons, such as payments of rent to your landlord or for money that you owe. 
  • You had a hardship payment because you got a sanction and could not pay rent, heating, food or hygiene needs. 

How do I claim it?

You did not need to claim it. It was paid automatically if you qualified for it. The payment was made separately from your benefit payments.

When and how will it be paid?

It was paid the same way you usually get your benefits paid.

The first payment of £301 was be paid between 25 April 2023 and 17 May 2023 for most people. For tax credits only claimants, this payment was made between 2 and 9 May 2023.

Report a missing £301 Cost of Living Payment 

The first payment £301 of Cost of Living Payment was paid between 25 April 2023 and 17 May 2023 for most people. 

If you think you should have received a payment and have not, you can report the missing payment online.

Cost of living payments for 2022

Below shows what was available to people during 2022.

What help was available for people on low incomes?

People who were claiming means-tested benefits received an extra payment of £650. 

Eligibility criteria for £650 payment

You were eligible for this support if you were receiving any of these benefits:

  • Universal Credit, or
  • Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Pension Credit (Guarantee Credit or Savings Credit)
  • Tax credits (working tax credit or child tax credit)

The money was paid in two instalments.

The first instalment was paid if: 

  • You were on Universal Credit and got a payment of any amount over 1p for an assessment period that ended between 26 April and 25 May. You can check your payments and your assessment period dates on your online journal.
  • You were on another qualifying benefit and you got any amount of payment of that benefit between 26 April and 25 May.
  • This includes if you are later found to have had backdated entitlement during these dates.

The second instalment was paid if:

  • You were on Universal Credit and were entitled to any amount of Universal Credit payment for an assessment period that ended between 26 August and 25 September 2022. You won't get any payment if you were awarded £0 of Universal Credit for your assessment period ending between these dates.
  • You were getting income-based JSA, income-related ESA or Income Support during the period 26 August to 25 September 2022.
  • You were getting Child Tax Credits or Working Tax Credits between 26 August 2022 and 25 September 2022.
  • You were getting Pension Credit during the period 26 August to 25 September 2022. 

How much was it?

The £650 was split into two payments.

The first payment was for £326.

The second payment was for £324.

How do I claim it?

You did not need to claim it. It was paid automatically if you qualified for it.

When and how will it be paid?

It was paid the same way you usually get your benefits paid.

The first instalment has already been paid: 

  • For people getting Pension Credit, Universal Credit, Income Support, income-related ESA or income-based JSA, it was paid between 14 July and the end of July 2022.
  • For people getting Child or Working Tax Credits (and not getting Income Support, income-related ESA or income-based JSA) it was paid in autumn 2022.

The second instalment has already been paid:

  • For people getting Pension Credit, Universal Credit, Income Support, income-related ESA or income-based JSA, it was paid between 8 and 23 November 2022
  • For people getting Child or Working Tax Credits (and not getting Income Support, income-related ESA or income-based JSA), it was paid after 23 November 2022.

If you think you should have received a payment and have not, contact the office that pays your benefit. 

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