The health and well-being of children across Teesside and the rest of the country is being put at risk by rapidly rising energy prices, a new report by Save the Children has shown. The survey found that 45% of parents living in severe poverty are considering cutting back on food in order to pay their energy bills this winter, and almost a third of all parents on the lowest incomes said they won’t be able to afford their winter energy bills even if they cut back on other essentials.
These findings are especially worrying given the growing evidence which shows that homes that are under-heated have a negative impact on both the physical and mental health of children and adolescents, especially those from the poorest families. According to Save the Children’s survey, 54% of parents on the lowest incomes are worried that their children’s health will suffer because their house will be too cold this winter.
Save the Children’s ‘No child left in the cold this winter’ campaign calls for the ‘big six’ energy companies to ensure all families eligible for Cold Weather Payments receive the Warm Home Discount, as in the first year of the scheme the maximum number of eligible families that will receive help is 25,000, leaving at least 775,000 without the Warm Home Discount.
The charity are also urging energy companies to transfer all prepayment meter customers and all customers in debt on their bills onto the cheapest tariff, and for the government to support and invest in energy efficient measures as a way to reduce fuel poverty for low income families.
Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham said:
“In the light of these shocking statistics, it is crucial that action is taken by both the energy companies and the government to reduce fuel poverty amongst low income families and alleviate the impact of rising energy costs.
“The Tory-led government’s lack of action on this issue is truly shameful and it is an embarrassment to this country that in the 21st century families have to choose between heating their homes and putting food on the table.
“I am giving my full support to Save the Children’s ‘No child left in the cold this winter’ campaign, which rightly addresses the need to boost the incomes of the poorest families to bring about positive outcomes across a range of agendas including fuel poverty.
“David Cameron pledged that he would make this country the most family friendly in Europe- giving more support the families who cannot pay their heating bills would be a good start.”