Posted: 13 January 2014

No child should grow up in a cold home

Extreme weather has brought misery and chaos to thousands of people across the country this winter. 

But away from the dramatic TV pictures and photographs of devastated communities, millions of Britain’s poorest families have already been facing severe hardship this winter. Struggling to cope with the rising cost of living and the demands of austerity, many face a tough, stark choice – heat or eat.

Today, a YouGov survey* that we carried out with the Daily Mirror shockingly reveals that two-thirds of parents living in the UK today – that's five million families – said they are likely to turn their heating down this winter because they can't afford it. Three million families said they will likely have to cut back on food so they can pay their energy bills this winter. You can read the full story in the Mirror

More than half of the families that have to lower their heating because of the cost say they are worried that their children will become ill because it makes their home too cold.

Please join in and use our online form to ask the government to ensure no child’s health suffers because of a cold home.

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Millions are living in cold homes

Heating a home can also drive families into debt. About half a million families told us they would likely have to take a loan out this winter in order to help them with the heating costs.

We contacted nearly 2,000 UK children to find out what poverty means for them and to discover more about the conditions they are living in. Shockingly this revealed that nearly three in 10 children - 3.6 million children - thought that their home was too cold last winter. This is simply scandalous.

Sadly, living in cold homes is a reality for huge numbers of families across the country. We see this in our projects day in, day out. Cold conditions can increase the children’s health problems. In extreme cases, such health conditions may contribute to children’s deaths. Latest figures from the Office for National Statistics reveal there were 110 more deaths among children in winter than at other points that year.

We can solve this problem

But solutions are possible. One simple measure that the government can do is to make sure that all children living in families in poverty automatically get the Warm Home Discount – a £135 discount to help low-income families with their fuel bills. 

As our new report, Behind Cold Doors: The chilling reality for children in poverty shows, nearly two million children in poverty are currently living in families that do not get this crucial support.

There are many other options to consider to lift children out of poverty. Savings on energy bills is one way to make sure that those most in need can keep their homes warm, and help put an end to parents having to make harsh choices between the basics. 

So I urge you to join our call to make sure that all children living in families in poverty automatically get the Warm Home Discount. Please email your MP and ask the government to ensure no child’s health suffers because of a cold home. No child should have to grow up in a cold home.

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All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2011 adults of which 468 respondents had children aged under 18years living in their household. Fieldwork was undertaken between 22 and 25 November 2013. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+). (Return to text.)

By Matthew Reed - Leadership team

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I am a single parent with 2 children 12 & 16 & I cannot afford to have my heating on other than at weekends which is mainly to help dry my children's school uniforms.

It is disgusting at the rise in prices, also the council refuse to help me heat my home with insulation in my lift & damp in my bedrooms & bathroom!

I've had my benefits stopped and been living on child tax credits every week! I have to choose between food or gas and right now can't afford both. Therefore not put any money in my gas meter in over 8 months and struggle and cut back on food as after I paid the gas and electric I'd have 15 left for food let alone pay anything else!!!