23 Feb 2017

Only 1 in 3 of UK’s poorest children are benefitting from the government’s Warm Home Discount, leaving as many as 2.6 million children out in the cold, new analysis from The Children’s Society has found.

As temperatures plummeted as low as -10c in part of England and Wales this winter, the Children’s Society estimates that two thirds of the UK’s 3.9 million children living in poverty are missing out on help from the Warm Home Discount.

Although all low-income pensioners automatically get a £140 discount on winter fuel bills, poor families with children have to apply to energy suppliers, with no guarantee that they will receive the support they need.

Analysis from The Children’s Society found that families with children spend around £1550 per year on average on their fuel bills - around £300 per year more on average than households without children. Ensuring low income families with children receive the Warm Home Discount would be a start in addressing this gap.

The Children’s Society has found that many poor families simply don’t know they may be eligible for the Warm Home Discount, and that many of the most vulnerable families aren’t getting the help they need. The charity is calling for the government to automatically entitle low-income families with children to the extra support with heating costs.

Matthew Reed, Chief Executive of The Children’s Society, said: “Living in a cold home puts children’s health at risk. Parents are doing the best they can on stretched incomes but all too often they simply can’t afford to put the heating on.

“The government should be doing all it can to ensure that children have warm, dry homes. As energy costs rise, this support is needed more than ever.”

ENDS

Notes to editors
Estimate based on number of Warm Home Discounts given in 2015-16 to non-pensioners (Ofgem 2016), proportion of fuel poor households with children (DWP Fuel Poverty Statistics 2014) and numbers of children in poverty (HBAI, 2016).
Energy spending by families is from ONS