23 Jul 2014

On the government's consultation on its next fuel poverty strategy, Matthew Reed, Chief Executive of The Children’s Society, said:

'The government’s announcement that it is making children who are living in low-income households a focus of its fuel poverty strategy is a welcome and important step forward.

'Too often children are left out of the fuel poverty debate, even though they are among the most affected by the cold homes crisis. As the new consultation recognises, 45% of those in fuel poverty are families with children.

'Much more that needs to be done to help these families cope with the rising cost of fuel. One crucial support is the Warm Home Discount, which provides a rebate on energy bills for families that are struggling to make ends meet. But, as we found, the current system is overly complicated and under-funded, which caused nearly two million children in poverty to miss out last winter.

'It is good news that the new consultation will seek ways to simplify this key support so more of the families that need it most can get it. The government needs to make sure that all children in poverty automatically get the Warm Home Discount, to help put an end to parents having to choose between heating or eating.'

Ends

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Notes to editors:

  • Cutting the Cost of Keeping Warm: A new fuel poverty strategy for England, the government’s consultation document: (https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/335099/fuel_poverty_consultation.pdf)
  • The Warm Home Discount provides £135 towards energy bills for low income, vulnerable households. Large energy companies are required to provide and fund this payment. Low income pensioners automatically get this amount deducted from their bill. A broader group of claimants from vulnerable households is eligible, within limits, at the discretion of their energy supplier. This group needs to apply to their supplier to get it. Even if they are eligible, the energy company is not obliged to provide the discount in every case, as the amount of support available is limited.
  • See our report Behind Cold Doors: The chilling reality for children in poverty for more details:(http://www.childrenssociety.org.uk/sites/default/files/tcs/behind_cold_doors_-_final.pdf )
  • Six in 10 children living in poverty are in low-income working families: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/households-below-average-income-hbai-199495-to-201213
  • By 2020, an estimated three quarters of a million more children will be living in poverty than today according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies: http://www.ifs.org.uk/comms/r78.pdf
  • The Children’s Society is supporting the first-ever Children’s Commission on Poverty (http://www.childrenscommission.org.uk/ ). The commissioners want the government to draw on children’s actual experience – and not just the statistics -- when developing measures to tackle child poverty. The Children’s Commission on Poverty is being supported by The Children’s Society and led by a panel of 16 children and teenagers from across England, ranging in age from 12 to 19. They are leading an 18-month investigation into child poverty in the UK. It provides a crucial platform for children to speak out about what poverty is really like and reveal, through their own eyes, the day-to-day challenges they face and what needs to be done.
  • The Children’s Society (http://www.childrenssociety.org.uk/ )wants to create a society where children and young people are valued, respected and happy. We are committed to helping vulnerable and disadvantaged young people, including children in care and young runaways. We give a voice to disabled children, help young refugees to rebuild their lives and provide relief for young carers. Through our campaigns and research, we seek to influence policy and perceptions so that young people have a better chance in life.