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1.6 million UK children living in fuel poverty

Release Date: 27 Feb 2013

The Energy Bill Revolution Alliance, of which Barnardo's is a member, wants the Government to use Carbon Tax to fund a nationwide programme of insulation that will make people’s homes as energy efficient as possible.

1.6 million children in the UK, including 1.2 million children in England, are now living in fuel poverty, according to shocking new research published by the Energy Bill Revolution. The findings accompany the launch of a hard-hitting campaign film today highlighting the impacts on children of living in a cold home.

Neera Sharma, Assistant Director of Policy and Research at Barnardo’s said:

It’s a disgrace that not only has so little action been taken to bring down energy bills, but nothing is being done to stop them rising further for the UK’s poorest families. 1.6 million children now endure the misery of growing up in cold homes, which can affect every area of their wellbeing.

The Government must tackle this national crisis, to reduce the effects of poverty. They can start by channeling funds raised by the carbon tax into making homes warmer."

Why we are campaigning

  • 130,000 more children in fuel poverty since 2010
  • Number of English children in fuel poverty now at 1.2 million
  • If energy bills rise by 25% the number of children in fuel poverty in the UK will double from 1.6 million to 3.2 million
  • A nationwide programme of insulation funded by carbon tax could eradicate fuel poverty and cut annual energy bills for the fuel poor by over £300 every year on average.

The number of children in fuel poverty has risen by 9% over the past three years, with 130,000 more children now living in families who need to spend more than 10% of their income on fuel to keep warm. Rising energy bills, falling incomes, and a decrease in Government investment to make homes more energy efficient have all played a part in the growing crisis. The research estimates that, since the Government came to power, funding to help fuel poor families with children has been cut by 27%.

Fuel poverty can have a disastrous impact on the health and wellbeing of children. As the story of Ryan in the campaign’s new film ‘Fuel poverty: Growing up cold’ shows, breathing problems such as asthma can be exacerbated by living in cold and damp rooms. His story is supported by research which demonstrates that children living in cold homes are twice as likely to suffer from asthma and other respiratory problems compared to those whose families can afford to keep the house warm.

Carbon tax should be used to help people insulate their homes

Carbon tax is charged to big companies for their carbon emissions but it ends up being paid for by consumers on their energy bill. Despite this, the Government doesn’t currently use one penny of carbon tax to help people to insulate their homes, bringing down energy bills and tackling fuel poverty.

The Energy Bill Revolution calculates there is enough carbon tax revenue to deliver energy efficiency measures each year to over half a million fuel poor homes. The energy efficiency improvements proposed by the campaign would cut the bill of the average fuel-poor household by over £300 every year.

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