Teresa is supporting The Children’s Society’s call that no child should have to grow up in a cold home. More than three million families are likely to cut back on food so they can pay their energy bills this winter, The Children’s Society reveals this week in its report, Behind Cold Doors: The chilling reality for children in poverty.
And more than half of the five million families that are likely to turn their heating down because of the cost are worried that their children will become ill as a result, the nationwide survey, jointly produced with the Daily Mirror, shows.
The Children’s Society is calling on the Government to help tackle this problem by making the Warm Home Discount – a £135 discount on energy bills for low income families – automatically available to all families with children living in poverty. Currently, nearly two million children in poverty live in families which miss out.
“It is unacceptable that families are having to forego food in order to pay their energy bills, and it is not right that any child should have to live in a cold home.
I have seen in my own constituency cases where children have been diagnosed with lung and respiratory problems due to the cold and damp conditions in which they have to live. This is simply because their parents cannot afford to heat their homes. This is not just a question of comfort. It is about health, and once again the poorest and most vulnerable families are suffering under this Government.
This report by The Children’s Society reveals the huge scale of the problem. The Government needs to act with urgency in order to make energy costs affordable for ordinary people and families, and to ensure that children can grow-up in warm homes.”
The Children’s Society’s Chief Executive, Matthew Reed said:
“It’s alarming that three million families will be cutting back on food so they can pay their energy bills this winter. A new ‘heat or eat’ generation is growing up in Britain, as families desperately struggle to make ends meet. But something can be done about this immediately. Urgent action is needed now to make sure all children in poverty can have a warm home.”
Cold conditions can increase the chances of children having respiratory and other health problems. In extreme cases, health conditions associated with the cold may contribute to children’s deaths. New figures from the Office for National Statistics show there were 110 more deaths among children in winter 2011-12 than at other points that year.
For many families turning the heating on is driving them into debt. About 500,000 families said they would likely have to take a loan out this winter in order to help them with the costs of heating their home.
And 3.6 million children say their homes are too cold — 1.3 million said their home had damp or mould.
This saving on their energy bills provided by the Warm Home Discount is critical to making 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.