2.2 million children are in fuel poverty according to the latest figures, showing a rise of 26%, with an extra 460,000 children in cold homes.
This new definition of fuel poverty makes the overall problem look smaller, with million people affected compared to 9 million using the old measure, but shows a greater impact on families with children.
The figures were gathered by researchers at the Association for the Conservation of Energy, to support campaign group Energy Bill Revolution in efforts to push insulation up the national agenda. They have designated 3 to 7 February “Cold Homes Week”, to put pressure on government to invest in energy efficiency.
Ed Matthew, director of the Energy Bill Revolution, said: “That 7 million English people are struggling in fuel poverty is a national tragedy and the government’s efforts to solve the problem have so far been utterly inadequate. There’s a simple solution to this crisis – we must stop our homes leaking heat. The government must make this the UK’s number one infrastructure spending priority. Better insulation will save families hundreds of pounds on their energy bills and eliminate fuel poverty once and for all.”
48% of people reviewed by Energy Bill Revolution said that they have had to cut back to be able to afford to heat their homes, with clothing and food among the items to receive the cutbacks.
19% have switched off their heating, despite feeling the cold.
Michelle Collins, actor and ambassador for children’s charity Barnardo’s, said: “It’s tragic that in a developed country like the UK so many families are living in fuel poverty. All too often parents are having to make the desperate choice between heating and buying essential items, like school uniforms, for their children.
“That is why I’m supporting Cold Homes Week, to get better insulation for the homes of the UK’s most vulnerable families and help put an end to the suffering of the 2.2 million children growing up cold.”
A spokesperson from Energy UK has advised customers who are having difficulty paying their bills to contact their supplier, or call the Home Heat Helpline. They said “The energy industry is doing an increasing amount to help vulnerable customers and we will be looking at what more can be done to help people worried about their bills. Help is available to those who are struggling, from assistance installing energy efficiency measures to money directly off the bill.”