For many, Christmas means spending more money than usual in a month as people buy presents, go out to celebrate with friends and stock up on food and drink.

In light of the continuing cost of living crisis, households will want keep a close eye on their finances and make every penny count. According to LancsLive, some will receive support from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in the coming weeks.

This includes £600 worth of cost of living help for pensioners and Christmas bonus for millions of people on certain benefits. However, there will also be some key changes being made to many households' financial situations which will be coming from both the Bank of England and Office for National Statistics

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Here's a breakdown of what December 2023 has in store and the key dates to be aware of:

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

  • 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

£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.

Interest rates - December 14:

The Bank of England will announce its next interest rates decision on December 14. The central bnk held its base rate at 5.25% during its last two meets - putting a pause to fourteen round of rate hikes, in relief for mortgage holders and borrowers.

The base rate is what the Bank of England charges other banks and lenders - this in turn then influences the rates you are charged as a customer when you borrow money. If interest rates are higher, you'll pay more to borrow on products like variable rate mortgages - but the flip side is, savings rates should go up.

Inflation - December 20:

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) will release the inflation rate for the 12 months to November on December 20. Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation is a figure used to explain how much the prices of goods and services have increased over time.

When inflation is high, it means prices have risen more sharply and you’re getting less for your money than before. CPI fell to 4.6% in the 12 months to September - its lowest level in two years. At its worst point, inflation hit a 41-year high of 11.1% in October last year.

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

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.

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