£299 Cost of Living payment will only go to certain households, warns DWP

Last modified on Tuesday 13 February 2024

Woman on phone, pounds in cash

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) starts issuing the final instalment of the £900 Cost of Living payment from tomorrow – but some families may not be eligible

The DWP began issuing the third and final cost of living payment last week, with 7 million people already now paid.

Around eight million people are expecting the payment, which will be paid into bank accounts between 6 February and 22 February for those on means-tested benefits and 16 February and 22 February for those on Tax Credits.

Worth £299, this is the final instalment of three payments, which together total £900. The payments were introduced to help low-income households struggling with the rising cost of living.

However, the DWP has said that there may be circumstances that mean you'll miss out on the payment even if you are claiming the eligible benefits.

And if you received the first two payments of £301 in spring 2023 and £300 in autumn 2023, it doesn't automatically guarantee you'll be paid the third.

These are the reasons you may not be eligible for the payment this time round.

Why might I miss out on the payment?

There are three reasons why you may miss out on a payment.

1. Missing the qualifying period

The DWP explains that while most people claiming eligible benefits will receive the Cost of Living payment, some may not because they may have missed the qualifying period.

To be eligible for Cost of Living payments you must be in receipt of one of the following qualifying benefits:

  • Universal Credit
  • Income-based Jobseekers Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Pension Credit
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Child Tax Credit

You must also have received, or been eligible for that benefit, during the qualifying period to get the Cost of Living payment.

The qualifying period for the £299 payment was between 13 November 2023 and 12 December 2023. That means that if you started claiming the benefit after this period, you won't be eligible for this Cost of Living payment.

However, you may still get the payment if it is later found you were eligible for a qualifying benefit during this period.

If you receive back payments of benefits covering the dates of the qualifying period, you will then receive the Cost of Living payment as a back payment. This will be issued to you automatically.

Or, if claiming Universal Credit, you may also get the payment if your assessment period ended during the qualifying period.

2. If your benefit is reduced to a nil award

You won't receive the third Cost of Living payment if your benefit was reduced to £0, known as a ‘nil award’, during the qualifying period. This sometimes happens if your earnings or savings have gone up.

If, however, your benefit was reduced to £0 during the qualifying period, for the following reasons, you may still be eligible for a Cost of Living Payment:

  • money was taken off your benefit for other reasons, such as payments of rent to your landlord or for money that you owe
  • you had a hardship payment because you could not pay for rent, heating, food or hygiene needs

3. If your Tax Credits are too low

The DWP has also confirmed that you may miss the Cost of Living payment if your Tax Credits entitlement for the tax year is below £26.

This happens if you haven't worked enough hours over the course of the year.

What are Cost of Living payments?

The government's Cost of Living payments are cash grants offered to households on certain benefits such as Universal Credit and tax credits.

More than 8 million households expect to get the £299 cash later this month to help with the rising costs of food, energy bills and other essentials. This will be the final instalment of a £900 payment.

Priot to the £900, the DWP issued payments of £650 in 2022. Jeremy Hunt then announced a further three payments, making up the £900, would be issued the following tax year.

The February payment is the third and final payment for the financial year 2023/2024, following a payment worth £301 in April 2023, and a second, worth £300, that was paid between 31 October and 19 November 2023.

When is the £299 payment due?

Eligible households are due to get the £299 payment between 6 February and 22 February 2024.

The government website explains:

  • Those on means-tested benefits (such as Universal Credit) will receive their payment from the DWP between 6 February and 22 February.
  • While anyone who claims Tax Credits and no other low-income benefit will get the £299 in their accounts between 16 February and 22 February. These will be paid by HMRC.

If you get Tax Credits from HMRC and also get a low-income benefit from DWP, you'll be paid by DWP only.

However, if you claim both Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit, you'll get the £299 payment from HMRC.

Which payments have been issued previously?

The following Cost of Living payments have been issued:

  • 14 and 31 July 2022: People on eligible DWP benefits received £326, the first instalment of the £650
  • 2 and 7 September 2022: Those on Tax Credits received the £326
  • 8 and 23 November 2022: Most people on DWP benefits received the second half of the £650, worth £324 
  • 23 and 30 November 2022: The £324 was paid out for people on Tax Credits
  • 25 April and 17 May 2023: The first instalment of the £900 was paid out, worth £301 for most people on DWP means-tested benefits and Tax Credits
  • 20 June and 4 July 2023: £150 Disability Cost of Living payment was issued for people claiming certain benefits such as the disability living allowance
  • 31 October and 19 November 2023: £300 was issued, the second instalment of the £900
  • November and December 2023: A Pensioner Cost of Living payment of £300 is being paid to pensioners who get Winter Fuel Payment

Can I still get the £299 I didn't receive the previous instalments?

Yes, as long as you receive a qualifying benefit during the qualifying period, you can be eligible for it.

More people were eligible for the second Cost of Living payment than the first.

Will there be more payments in 2024?

In November, Labour MP Sir George Howarth asked whether the payments would continue into 2024.

Mims Davies, MP and DWP representative at the DWP confirmed: 'There are currently no plans to extend the cost of living payments beyond the spring.

She said that this was because the rate of inflation had slowed and the government would be increasing benefits to help low-income households.

This comes after the Chancellor announced benefits would be increased by 6.7% in his Autumn Statement last month. 5.5 million households on Universal Credit will benefit from this, seeing an increase of £470 over the next tax year.

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