Nearly 700,000 families in Scotland will continue to receive direct financial support from Government, with the first of five Cost of Living Payments – worth £301 – hitting bank accounts this spring.
After confirming the payment schedule for five cost of living payments through the 2023/24 financial year, The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has today announced in Parliament more detail on the support.
This includes estimates of how many people across the UK, and in each local authority and parliamentary constituency, will receive the first £301 Cost of Living Payment and the £150 Disability Payment, which follows on from up to £1,200 in support for low-income households in 2022.
Work and Pensions Secretary, Mel Stride said:
“These direct payments will help people right across the UK over this year and the start of the next, as we continue to provide consistent, targeted and substantial support for the most vulnerable.
“Our wider support package, including the Energy Price Guarantee, will ensure every household is being helped through this challenging period of high inflation, caused by Putin’s illegal war and the aftershocks of the pandemic.”
UK Government Minister for Scotland John Lamont said:
“Hundreds of thousands of people across Scotland can now be secure in the knowledge they will receive further substantial and consistent help with the cost of living this year.
“Building on the £1,200 package of support that was delivered to Scottish households last year, this is more evidence of the UK Government’s commitment to support the most vulnerable – low-income families, pensioners and those with disabilities – across Scotland and the whole United Kingdom.”
Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt added:
“High inflation, exacerbated by Putin’s illegal war, is hurting economies across the world and making people poorer.
“These payments are the next part of the significant support we are providing through this challenging time, with millions of vulnerable households receiving £900 directly into their bank accounts this financial year alongside additional help for pensioners and those with disabilities.
“This latest payment will provide some temporary relief, but the best thing we can do to help families and businesses is to stick to the plan to halve inflation this year.”
Exact payment windows and qualifying periods for eligibility will be announced in due course, but are designed to ensure a consistent support offer throughout the year. Payment windows will be broadly as follows:
· £301 – First 2023/24 Cost of Living Payment – during Spring 2023
· £150 – 2023 Disability Payment – during Summer 2023
· £300 – Second 2023/24 Cost of Living Payment – during Autumn 2023
· £300 – 2023 Pensioner Payment – during Winter 2023/4
· £299 – Third 2023/24 Cost of Living Payment – during Spring 2024
There are several benefits that could make claimants eligible for the £301 Cost of Living Payment, including Universal Credit and tax credits – through which 5.4 million households across the UK are expected to qualify, and Pension Credit, through which 1.4 million pensioner households are expected to be paid. 1.3 million will be eligible through legacy DWP benefits such as Jobseekers Allowance and Income Support, reaching a total of 8.1 million households.
Eligible individuals do not need to apply for payments, as they are made automatically.
Those eligible for cost of living payments through tax credits, and no other means-tested benefits, will be paid by HMRC shortly after DWP payments are made.
This builds on the Government’s wider support package, which includes further funding for the Household Support Fund, bringing its total value for October 2021 to March 2024 to over £2 billion.
The fund is distributed to English councils, who know their areas best and are then able to offer direct support for those most in need in their local area.
Every household with a domestic electricity supply is also benefitting from the Energy Price Guarantee, which is saving the average household around £900 this winter and a further £500 in 2023/24 by capping energy costs.
Benefits will also rise in line with inflation from April, which will see a 10.1% increase for pensioners and those on the lowest incomes, whilst the National Living Wage will see its biggest ever cash rise, bringing it to £10.42 an hour.
This all follows on from 2022’s support package, which included:
· A £650 Cost of Living Payment for means-tested benefit claimants, split into two payments, each of which supported over eight million households
· Further £300 and £150 payments, which reached over eight million pensioner households and six million disabled people respectively
· A £150 Council Tax rebate for all households in Council Tax bands A-D in England
· A £400 energy bill discount for all households, which will continue to run through March 2023