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 in December. As is a "bonus" from the DWP that has been called an "insult" by some.

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). 

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:

  • State Pension
  • Pension Credit
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
  • Carers Allowance
  • Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
  • Income Support
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • awards from the War Pensions Scheme
  • Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit
  • Incapacity 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. 

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
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Carer’s Allowance
  • 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)
  • Mobility Supplement
  • 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
  • Widow’s Pension

You must also be present or "ordinarily resident" in the UK, Channel Islands, Isle of Man or Gibraltar during the qualifying week.