Who's eligible for £650 cost of living payments and how can they be claimed?

The payment will be split over two instalments. Credit: PA

Millions of people on low incomes will start to receive payments of £324 into their bank accounts from Tuesday (8 November), in the latest round of the government’s cost of living support measures.There is no need for people to apply or do anything to receive it – the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will start making the payments directly into eligible people’s bank accounts - so people should watch out for texts or emails from scammers inviting them to make applications.

The payments form the second part of a £650 sum being paid out to people receiving benefits. More than a million households on Tax Credits received the first of the two payments in September.

Those who receive other benefits, including Universal Credit and Pension Credit, received the first of their cost of living payments in July.

The scheme is an attempt to lessen the burden of the cost of living crisis, as soaring energy bills - coupled with rising prices in supermarkets and shops - continue to put pressure on people, with figures showing more and more people are buying less food to get by.

Here is what you need to know about the support on offer.

Who is eligible?

People may be entitled to receive the £650 in two lump sums if they are from low-income households on benefits or receive certain support, such as:

  • Universal Credit

  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)

  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

  • Income Support

  • Pension Credit

  • Child Tax Credit

  • Working Tax Credit

To receive the cost of living support you must have been eligible for a Tax Credits payment between 26 April 2022 and 25 May 2022, or later found to be eligible.

If you get both Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit, you will receive a cost of living payment for Child Tax Credit only.

Those who receive Universal Credit, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, and Pension credit received the first instalment of £326 between July 14 and 31, while the second payment of £324 followed in the autumn.

People can check their eligibility for pension credit using an online calculator or by calling a freephone claim line (0800 99 1234).

The payments will be made from Thursday. Credit: PA

What do I need to do to claim the money?

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) have been identifying those eligible to receive a cost-of-living payment.

There is no need for people to apply or do anything to receive it – so people should watch out for texts or emails from scammers inviting them to make applications.

The payment reference on DWP recipients’ bank accounts will be their national insurance number, followed by “DWP COL”. For HMRC recipients, the payment reference will be “HMRC COLS”.

When will the payments be made?

Some 1.1 million people who claim Tax Credits received the first instalment of £326 in September 2022, while the second payment of £324 will begin landing in people's bank accounts from Tuesday 8 November.

DWP claimants will generally receive their second cost-of-living payments by November 23.

Eligible households receiving tax credits, and no other means-tested benefits, will get their second cost-of-living payment from November 23 and should receive it by November 30.

Is there any other help?

Pensioner households will also receive an extra £300 to help cover the rising cost of energy this winter, while people on disability benefits received an extra £150 payment in September.

From October, households the first of a £400 discount on energy bills that is being paid in monthly instalments to domestic energy customers until March.

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People may soon see a rise in the their wage packet after the cancellation of the 1.25 percentage point rise in national insurance came into effect in November.

When announcing the reversal, the Treasury said most employees will receive a cut to their national insurance contribution directly via their employer’s payroll in their November pay, although some may be delayed to December or January.

But won’t energy bills get worse?

The energy price guarantee, which limits the unit cost of energy, runs from the start of October 2022 until the end of March 2023.

A review will be launched to consider more targeted measures to support households with their energy bills after this period.

Meanwhile, food price inflation has hit a record 14.7%, adding a potential £682 to the annual cost of a household's grocery bill, a research firm has said. Just over a quarter of households (27%) say they are struggling financially – double the figure recorded last November, the research firm Kantar said.

Energy bills are expected to rise further. Credit: PA

'Many threats remain’

The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) said that geopolitical tensions, soaring energy costs and long-term pressure on the nation’s finances from an ageing population “add up to a challenging outlook for this and future governments as they steer the public finances through inevitable future shocks.”

The OBR said: “Many threats remain, with rising inflation potentially tipping the economy into recession, continued uncertainty about our future trading relationship with the EU, a resurgence in Covid cases, a changing global climate, and rising interest rates all continuing to hang over the fiscal outlook.”

People can find out more information about cost of living support here.