Fuel poverty: what it means for young parents and their families

'One in five young people live in fuel poverty'

No-one can understand fuel poverty unless they have lived in it. Fuel poverty is when you wake up to find you have no gas, no money and two days 'til payday. You have to feed cold food to your children and wrap them up in coats, gloves and scarves indoors or trail them round the shops all day to keep warm.

Fuel poverty impacts on the lives of some of the most disadvantaged children and young people. It can force parents to cut back on essentials to keep their homes warm and push families and young people into debt. For a child, it can mean growing up in a home that is cold and damp, which will have a long-lasting effect on their health, learning and enjoyment of life.

Struggling to pay energy bills and keep warm at home is traditionally seen as a problem that only affects the elderly, however this is not the case. A quarter of households headed by 16 to 24-year-olds live in fuel poverty[1] and 3.8 million children in England live in families that are struggling to pay their energy bills.[2]

Funded by Economy Energy, we carried out a project to gain insight into fuel poverty and its impact on young people, working directly with those affected to give voice to their experiences.

We found families with children, and young parents in particular, face multiple challenges when it comes to keeping their homes warm and healthy. These include:

  • struggling with low or falling incomes even when they are in employment
  • high cost of energy
  • greater likelihood of living in private-rented accommodation with higher rents and lower energy efficiency properties
  • poor condition of housing stock, particularly in private-rented sector
  • less access to social housing
  • greater likelihood of pre-payment meters with higher charges
  • lack of knowledge and understanding of how to reduce their energy consumption and bills

To read the report in full, click on the link below.

Fuel poverty: what it means for young parents and their families

[1] Department of Energy & Climate Change (2014) Annual Fuel Poverty Statistics Report, 2014

[2] Department for Communities and Local Government English Housing Survey (2012)