Christmas is a joyous time for millions every year, but it is also a dreaded one for vulnerable families up and down the country.
With presents to buy on top of the added struggles of mouths to feed and homes to keep warm, thousands of families fall on hard times.
This is why financial support is important and routinely rolled out each year.
Pensioners will continue to receive up to £600 in support next month. Cold Weather Payments will also continue next month. As is a "bonus" from the DWP that has been called an "insult" by some.
— Barry Ward (@ward_barry) November 19, 2023
Here is everything you need to know about all the money changes in December.
Benefits paid early - December 22
Some benefits will be paid early next month due to the Christmas and New Year bank holidays. If you're due a payment on a bank holiday, you'll normally be paid the previous working day.
For example, if you're due a payment on Christmas Day or Boxing Day, you'll be paid the previous Friday (December 22). You can read more here.
Winter Fuel Payment - throughout December
Winter Fuel Payments will continue to be paid to eligible state pensioners in December, having started in November. The Winter Fuel Payment itself is worth up to £300, depending on your living arrangements and circumstances.
But the Government is then topping this up with an extra £300 pensioner cost of living payment - meaning some households will get up to £600 this winter. You can get a Winter Fuel Payment for winter 2023/24 if you were born before September 25, 1957.
You also need to have lived in the UK - although in some cases you can claim if you’ve moved abroad - for at least one day between September 18 to September 24, 2023. Most people who receive the following benefits will get the Winter Fuel Payment automatically:
Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
awards from the War Pensions Scheme
Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit
Industrial Death Benefit
There will be some cases where you need to apply.
£300 cost of living deadline - December 10
You may be eligible to receive the £300 cost of living payment if you're able to backdate a Pension Credit deadline. In order to do this, you had to of been state pension age between August 18, 2023 and September 17, 2023.
You then need to make sure you backdate a Pension Credit claim by December 10. If your claim is approved, you'll then automatically receive the £300 cost of living payment.
Pension Credit is made up of two parts. Guarantee Credit tops up your weekly income to £201.05 if you're single, or £306.85 if you're a couple. Savings Credit gives you £15.94 extra per week if you're single, or £17.84 extra per week if you're a couple.
Ooo, that’s a bonus I’d forgotten I was getting. @DWP winter fuel payment goes into my bank tomorrow. That’ll cover the extra loft insulation I bought last spring. 👍🏻
— 𝐀𝐧𝐝𝐲 𝐅𝐫𝐢𝐳𝐳𝐞𝐥𝐥 🐋 (@AndrewJFrizzell) November 27, 2023
Cold Weather Payments - throughout December
Cold Weather Payments are worth £25 and are awarded when the average temperature where you live is recorded as, or forecast to be, 0C or below over seven consecutive days. Keep an eye out for this award if the temperature drops in December.
The scheme reopened on November 1 and will run until March 31 next year. You need to be living in England or Wales and claiming certain benefits or Support for Mortgage Interest to be eligible for a Cold Weather Payment.
If you live in Scotland, you might be entitled to an annual £50 Winter Heating Payment instead.
DWP Christmas bonus - first full week of December
The DWP will soon start to pay £10 to people claiming certain benefits. You need to be in receipt of one of the following benefits in the "qualifying week" - which is usually the first full week of December - to receive the bonus.
Adult Disability Payment
Armed Forces Independence Payment
Child Disability Payment
Constant Attendance Allowance (paid under Industrial Injuries or War Pensions schemes)
Contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance (once the main phase of the benefit is entered after the first 13 weeks of claim)
Disability Living Allowance
Incapacity Benefit at the long-term rate
Industrial Death Benefit (for widows or widowers)
Pension Credit - the guarantee element
Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
State Pension (including Graduated Retirement Benefit)
Severe Disablement Allowance (transitionally protected)
Unemployability Supplement or Allowance (paid under Industrial Injuries or War Pensions schemes)
War Disablement Pension at State Pension age
War Widow’s Pension
Widowed Mother’s Allowance
Widowed Parent’s Allowance
You must also be present or "ordinarily resident" in the UK, Channel Islands, Isle of Man or Gibraltar during the qualifying week.