Impact of fuel poverty on children

More than half of all children in poverty are missing out on crucial help that could keep them warm, a new analysis by the Children’s Society has revealed. The report highlights the extent of fuel poverty in the UK, and says many children living in poverty are also living in inadequately heated homes.

Key findings

  • An estimated 3.6 million children say their home was too cold last winter. Around 1.3 million say it had damp or mould.
  • In 2011-12 there were 110 excess winter deaths among children. This means that 7.9 per cent more children died in the winter months than in other times during that period.
  • Two thirds of families say they are likely to turn their heating down this winter because of the cost. Of these families more than half (55 per cent) say they are worried about their children becoming ill as a result of their home being too cold.
  • More than four in 10 families – over 3 million – say they are likely to cut back their spending on food because of heating bills this winter.
  • About half a million families say they are likely to take out a loan this winter in order to cover the costs of heating their home.
  • This winter, about 1.9 million children living in poverty (over half of all children in poverty) are in families that do not get a warm home discount (a £135 rebate for low-income, vulnerable households). Many of these children are in working families living in poverty who miss out because their energy company does not provide the discount to working families living in poverty.

Children’s Society Chief Executive Matthew Reed said: 'It is alarming that huge numbers of children across the UK are growing up in a cold home. The scale of the problem, as these figures show, is truly appalling. The government must take decisive action now to move children in from the cold and help stop their parents from having to make this terrible choice between heating and eating'.

Source: Sam Royston, Behind Cold Doors: The Chilling Reality for Children in Poverty, Children's Society
LinksReport | Childrens Society press release

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Publication date: 
Mar 7 2014