AS MANY as 2.3 million children from poor families could be suffering from teh cold during winter because their families have not claimed the discounts on their fuel bills which they are entitled to.
Analysis by the Children’s Society has found that just one in three children lives in a home where the family applied for the Warm Home Discount, a Government-led scheme where those on certain benefits can receive up to £140 off their energy bills.
According to figures from the Office for National Statistics, families with children spend on average £300 more per year on their fuel bills than families without children. “Ensuring low income families with children receive the Warm Home Discount would be a start in addressing this gap,” the Children’s Society said in a statement.
While another scheme, the Winter Fuel Payment, is automatically paid into older pensioners’ bank accounts, those eligible for the Warm Home Discount have to apply to their energy company to receive the saving.
The Society said that many families were not aware that they were eligible for the discount, and has called on the Government to ensure that low-income households automatically get extra support over winter to pay their energy bills.
The chief executive of the Children’s Society, Matthew Reed, said: “Living in a cold home puts children’s health at risk. Parents are doing the best they can on stretched incomes but all too often they simply can’t afford to put the heating on.
“The Government should be doing all it can to ensure that children have warm, dry homes. As energy costs rise, this support is needed more than ever.”