New figures from the End Fuel Poverty Coalition have highlighted the challenge facing young families this winter.
Across England, 22% of households will face fuel poverty this winter, but for those households with young children (0-4 years old), the figure rises to 35%.
More than one million households with babies and infants (42%) will be in fuel poverty from 1 April 2023.
A spokesperson for the End Fuel Poverty Coalition commented:
People are already seeing for themselves the suffering caused by living in fuel poverty and it will just get worse as we get deeper into winter and when the Energy Price Guarantee raises prices again in April 2023.
The figures show that University College London’s Institute of Health Equity predictions of ‘a humanitarian crisis’ for children stuck in cold homes are now a very real possibility with fuel poverty causing a public health crisis.”
Children growing up in cold, damp, and mouldy homes with inadequate ventilation have higher than average rates of respiratory infections and asthma, chronic ill health, and disability. They are also more likely to experience depression, anxiety, and slower physical growth and cognitive development.
Sarah Woolnough, chief executive of the Asthma and Lung UK charity, told the Independent that respiratory infections could “thrive” in colder temperatures if a growing number of vulnerable people cannot afford enough heating next year:
Children can be particularly at risk because their lungs are less well developed, so if they do pick up an infection then they’re more likely to get seriously ill.
Following the Government’s disappointing response to the energy bills crisis leaving so many households in fuel poverty, the Warm This Winter campaign has called for a national Day of Action on fuel poverty on Saturday 3 December 2022.
Groups and communities will come together and stage Warm This Winter events and actions in villages, towns and cities up and down the country in a display of people power showing support for the solutions to the energy crisis that need to be implemented now.
The Day of Action will bring together people from across the poverty movement, health and disability campaigners, housing activists, environmental campaigners as well as those struggling to pay their energy bills.
People can register their event or find an event near them online at https://www.warmthiswinter.