Almost two-thirds of low income parents are struggling to afford their energy costs, despite being in work, according to a survey for the charity Turn2us.
It says this compares to 42% of working households without children. Of those families who are struggling, over two-fifths have done so for more than a year, according to the survey of over 2,000 adults with household incomes of £30,000 and less before tax and deductions. One in 10 has seen their energy supply disconnected in the course of the last year due to unpaid energy costs.
More than three in five low income working parents admit they’re worried about their energy costs this winter. Nearly two-thirds will cut back on their heating, or not use it at all, whilst 47% said they would resort to cutting back on food. A third are concerned about incurring debt from these costs.
Turn2us’ research also suggests a lack of awareness of the help that could be available to low income working families or potential reluctance to access it. Of those who are struggling to pay their energy costs, only 11% have told their energy supplier about their situation, and only 6% have turned to an advice organisation for help. More than three-quarters have not checked their eligibility for welfare benefits in the last twelve months, whilst 81% are unaware that some energy suppliers have charitable trusts set up to help certain customers.
Turn2us is running a No Cold Homes campaign this winter to help more people who are unable to afford to heat their homes. The charity is encouraging anyone in financial hardship to use its free online service to see if they are eligible for welfare benefits, charitable grants and other support – additional income which could help them manage their energy costs over the colder months.
Simon Hopkins, Chief Executive of Turn2us, said: “Our research paints a startling picture, revealing the extent to which families are struggling to heat their homes, even though they’re in work. It is clear that more needs to be done to help raise awareness of the financial support and other help available to people on low incomes to help them manage their energy costs.
“We know that this is an issue that affects a wide range of people, and alongside working households, many others will suffer this winter. We believe that no one should have to live in a cold home. Through our campaign, we urge anyone struggling to check what support could be available.”
The new findings from Turn2us are released on the same day that The Trussell Trust releases its latest figures showing that numbers helped by foodbanks nationwide are still at record levels, and that winter is likely to see a further spike in need.
David McAuley, Chief Executive of The Trussell Trust says: “This important research from Turn2us reinforces what we see on the ground day-in day-out at foodbanks. During winter we meet families who are all sleeping together in one room to share warmth, who cannot afford to heat the home and have no money for food. There are too many people struggling to afford fuel and food in the UK, and winter is the hardest time of year for many people in poverty.”