Eight million people on means-tested benefits are now receiving their final cost-of-living payment to help with high prices and bills.
The £299 payment will go directly into bank accounts of those eligible before 22 February without the need to claim.
No further payments of this kind are scheduled and charities are urging the government to consider more support.
However, questions have been raised over whether such payments were the best way to help struggling households.
This payment of £299 is the last of three instalments that totalled £900 that will have been paid within a year.
Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride said: ”The economy has turned a corner, and with inflation falling we are providing millions of the most vulnerable households with another significant cash boost.”
Those on low incomes and receiving benefits such as universal credit are eligible, but they should be wary of scams in which fraudsters use the opportunity to try to personal details.
They often purport to be from government bodies. Some are designed to capture financial information.
On legitimate payments, there will be a reference on a recipient’s bank account of their national insurance number, followed by DWP COL, or the reference HMRC COLS for those who are eligible through tax credits.
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After this final instalment, no further cost-of-living payments are currently scheduled, with some pressure on Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to announce more support in next month’s Budget.
“Our data shows that the cost-of-living payments do offer some respite to people, but this is short lived. Historically high energy bills, unaffordable housing and other spiralling costs are keeping people in crisis,” said Morgan Wild, of Citizens Advice.
“The government has responded with temporary support but we need more than quick fixes. Long-term commitments are needed to raise people’s incomes and standard of living.”
The government has pointed to a 6.7% rise in benefits and an 8.5% rise in the state pension, as well as an increase in the financial support provided to those on benefits who rent privately, which all come into effect in April.
A committee of MPs recently questioned whether the payments were sufficient to help those in financial difficulty owing to high bills and prices.
In November, a report by the Work and Pensions Committee said the money only provided a temporary reprieve for some, and may have been better used for increasing benefits instead.
This is not the only cost-of-living payment. More than six million people with disabilities received £150 during last summer. During the winter, over eight million pensioners received an extra payment of up to £300, primarily to help with energy bills.
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Am I eligible for the money?
- The money will be added automatically into the account which is used to receive benefit payments
- The reference will be DWP COL, along with the claimant’s National Insurance number
- To qualify for a payment, you must receive one of universal credit, income-based jobseeker’s allowance, income-related employment and support allowance, income support, working tax credit, child tax credit, or pension credit
- You will need to have been entitled to a payment for one of these benefits between 13 November and 12 December, or payment for an assessment period ending between these dates
- Low-income pensioners who are eligible for, but not claiming pension credit, can still qualify for the cost-of-living payment if they make a successful backdated pension credit application
- Those who qualify solely through tax credits will receive their cost-of-living payment with the reference HMRC COLS
- Department for Work & Pensions
- Personal finance
- Cost of Living