‘Severe effect’ of fuel poverty on children

Fuel poverty can have severe and life-long effects on children, according to a new report from the Association for the Conservation of Energy. The authors point out that although it is widely recognised that fuel poverty has severe effects on older people, the position of families and children has been relatively neglected.

Key points

  • Long-term exposure to a cold home can affect weight gain in babies and young children, increase hospital admission rates for children, and increase the severity and frequency of asthmatic symptoms.
  • Children in cold homes are more than twice as likely to suffer from breathing problems, and those in damp and mouldy homes are up to three times more likely to suffer from coughing, wheezing and respiratory illness, compared with those with warm, dry homes.
  • Struggling with high energy bills can have an adverse impact on the mental health of family members. Fuel poverty may even affect children's education – for example, if health problems keep them off school, or if a cold home means there is no warm, separate room to do their homework.

Source: Pedro Guertler and Sarah Royston, Fact-File: Families and Fuel Poverty, Association for the Conservation of Energy
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