Over 8 million households in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland who claimed qualifying means-tested benefits during the eligibility period will be automatically paid £324 this month, as part of £1,200 worth of direct help for households.

The payments, starting today from the Department for Work and Pensions, are made directly into eligible recipients’ bank accounts, with no need for people to apply or do anything to receive it.

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”.

Work and Pensions Secretary, Mel Stride said:

We understand that people are struggling and that is why we’ve consistently acted to ensure millions of low-income families are supported. We will continue to act with compassion as we navigate challenging global economic circumstances.

As part of a wider £37 billion package of support, this latest £324 payment will help the most vulnerable people in our society who are worrying about their finances through the winter months.

The government’s £1,200 support package contains £400 for energy bills that is being paid in monthly instalments to all domestic energy customers between now and March 2023. It also includes a £150 Council Tax rebate for 85% of all UK households and the previous £326 Cost of Living Payment made by DWP in July and by HMRC in September.

On top of this, nearly one in ten people received the £150 disability payment in September, and a £300 addition to Winter Fuel Payments will go to over eight million pensioner households over the winter.

Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt added:

Prices are rising across the world as we manage the aftershock of COVID-19 and Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. We recognise that families back home are struggling, which is why we’ve taken decisive action to hold down energy bills this winter, and provided hundreds of pounds of cash support for each vulnerable household.

As part of that support, over 8 million vulnerable households – almost a quarter of families in the UK – will automatically receive a second cost of living payment worth £324 in their bank account from today.

And while we can’t completely protect people from rising prices, my priority at the upcoming Autumn Statement will be to protect the poorest in society as we take the tough decisions necessary to fix our public finances.

Those eligible to receive the second cost of living payment from today include people on:

  • Universal Credit
  • Income-based Jobseekers Allowance (JSA)
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Income Support
  • Pension Credit

To be eligible, claimants must have been claiming and entitled to a payment between 26 August and 25 September 2022, with the exception of pensioner households, who may be able to have a new Pension Credit claim backdated.

They have until 18 December 2022 to submit a valid claim for Pension Credit, which could entitle them to the £324 Cost of Living payment. Anyone can check their eligibility for Pension Credit using the online calculator or by calling the freephone claim line, on: 0800 99 1234.

Even if you are not on a qualifying DWP benefit you may still be eligible for the £324 payment, as HMRC are also making payments to over a million people who receive Working Tax Credit or Child Tax Credit and no other eligible benefits. These will be paid between 23 and 30 November 2022 and customers do not need to contact the government or apply for the payment at any stage.

The £324 payment and the overall £1,200 package come on top of wide-ranging government support with the cost of living this winter, including an extension to the Household Support Fund, which is providing an extra £421 million between October and March to help vulnerable people with the essentials.

As well as this, the Energy Price Guarantee is ensuring people across the country pay significantly less for their energy bills, with a typical household saving around £700 this winter.

You can read more about the government’s cost of living support and what is available here.

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