UNISONScotland www
This is our archive website that is no longer being updated.
For the new website please go to
Click here
Home News About us Join Us Contacts Help Resources Learning Links UNISON UK
  Retired Members Information & Resources 

Staying Active in UNISON

Back to Retired Members Index

Back to Information & Resources Index

Useful Links



Provided by Mae Stewart, Editor UNISON Retired members Newsletter, Dundee, Perth and Angus.
Please note that this is not definitive information about benefits but will provide a signpost as to where to get up to date information. Please check the sources first. UNISON Scotland can take no responsibility for information that may be outdated or inaccurate.

Issue 28 November 2009

top | Information & Resources Index

Steps to Keeping Warmer this Winter

Fuel bills can be a worry for many older people. If you are struggling to pay your bills, make sure that you are claiming all the benefits you are entitled to.

top | Information & Resources Index

Claiming means-tested benefits

If your weekly income is low, you may be entitled to Pension Credit - extra money to take your income up to a higher level. If you receive Pension Credit you may also get help with Council Tax, dental treatment and the cost of glasses. It is well worth asking.

For help with personal care you may be able to claim other benefits such as Disability Living Allowance or Attendance Allowance.

If you are receiving benefits and you are in debt for fuel, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) can pay some of your benefit directly to the fuel company. The scheme is called Fuel Direct; ask at your local benefits office about it. Your benefits office can also advise you on Community Care Grants and Budgeting Loans.

top | Information & Resources Index

Claiming non-means-tested benefits

Winter Fuel Payment
The Government makes an annual Winter Fuel Payment to people aged 60 and over to help towards fuel bills. To qualify this year you must be aged 60 or over on or before 27 September 2009. You don't have to be getting any particular benefit to get a payment.

Action point: For more information on managing your bills. If you receive a fuel bill you can't pay, tell your gas or electricity company at once. The address and phone number will be on the bill. If you tell the company you are having problems, it should be able to help you. For example, you could arrange to pay in instalments. Never just ignore the bill, otherwise your gas or electricity supply could be cut off.

However, electricity and gas suppliers are not allowed to disconnect households that consist only of people aged over 60 between 1 October and 31 March. And your supplier should not disconnect you at any time if you agree to have a pre-payment meter installed. When you contact the electricity or Gas Company, mention that you are an older person as this will make a difference.

If you are a British Gas customer, call free on 0800 0480202 for more information about the British Gas services you may be entitled to.

Action point: For more information Ways of paying for heat Rather than receiving a quarterly bill, you could ask your electricity or gas company about some of the following options - but note that not all companies offer all these ways to pay. You should find the number on your gas or electricity bill or in the local phone book.

With a budget scheme or payment plan you can spread payments evenly throughout the year. Usually you arrange for a set amount of money to be paid to the Fuel Company weekly, fortnightly, or monthly from your bank account by direct debit or standing order. If your income varies over the year and you can't pay a set amount towards your bill regularly, you may want to put some money towards your next bill whenever you are able to do so. This is often called a flexible payments scheme.

Payments can usually be made at a bank or post office, or by post. You can also use a PayPoint card to put money towards your bill. You can add money to the card at a PayPoint terminal. These are found in many newsagents, supermarkets and garages.

A pre-payment meter is operated by tokens, cards or special keys that have to be charged up. By 'paying as you go' you will not have the shock of an unexpectedly large bill at the end of the quarter. However, it can be more expensive to pay for gas or electricity in this way. Also, you may not find it convenient to have to buy cards or charge up your key.

top | Information & Resources Index

Changing your fuel supplier

If you are finding that your bills are rising very fast, you may want to think about changing your fuel supplier. You can now buy gas and electricity from many different companies.

When choosing a supplier, see what payment plans different companies offer as well as checking their prices. You could also ask if the company has any special tariffs or reward schemes that may benefit you.

Action point: Consumer Direct can give you information to help you compare prices of the different fuel suppliers (tel. 0845 404 0506).

top | Information & Resources Index

Before carrying out any energy-efficiency measures

It is wise to get advice on what measures would benefit your property most and whether you can get any help with the cost. If you are renting your property, check whether your landlord is responsible for this kind of work or if you need to consult them about it. The landlord's permission is usually needed if you want to carry out any home improvements.

top | Information & Resources Index

Top tips for insulating your home

Heat will always escape to the outside, flowing through the walls, ceiling, windows, doors and floor. When you insulate your home, you slow down this escape and help to keep the heat you pay for inside your house, reducing your bills.

Insulate your hot water tank by buying a special jacket to fit around it. This will reduce heat loss and keep your hot water at the right temperature for longer, saving you pounds.

Insulate your cold water tank to stop it freezing in the winter months.

Insulate your loft to help prevent heat escaping through your roof. Curtains, particularly if they are heavy and lined, insulate your windows. Ideally, they should reach down to the window sill.

Keep the doors to rooms shut. Leaving them open means your heating system has to work harder and will cost you more.

Other, more expensive, insulation measures include fitting permanent double glazing, installing cavity wall insulation, and insulating solid walls by adding an extra layer of insulation to the inside or outside of the wall.

top | Information & Resources Index

Keeping your house warm

Action point - Your local Energy Saving Trust advice centre will explain the different ways of saving energy and money in your property, including any local initiatives. Call 0800 512 012.

top | Information & Resources Index

Five ways to draught proof your home

Gaps and cracks around windows, doors and skirting boards can cause draughts which can make you feel cold and uncomfortable, as well as wasting a lot of energy and money through heat loss.

Reduce draughts with heavy, well-fitting curtains at the windows and the front door. Draught proof your windows using special material from a DIY store.

Fix draught proofing strips around the sides of the doors, and draught excluders to the bottoms of doors, where there are often gaps. Fit letterbox and keyhole covers.

Seal gaps between floorboards and around the skirting boards with sealant or thin wooden strips (beading). Info. from help the aged.

Apologies for any misquotes
Mae Stewart

top | Information & Resources Index


As our thoughts turn to all things Christmas, I'd like to take the opportunity to wish you, and yours, all the very best of times during the festive season. I hope that you all stay healthy and happy. Happy New Year as well when it comes! Look after each other and anyone else you know that could do with a bit help.


Yours Aye
Mae Stewart