Fuel poverty and living in a cold home can have a major impact on both adults and children. It can cause or exacerbate serious illness such as respiratory and circulatory conditions in people who are vulnerable.
These can include:
- People with respiratory conditions (in particular, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and childhood asthma)
- Pregnant women
- Terminally ill
- People with Suppressed immune systems (e.g. from cancer treatment or HIV)
- People with mobility issues
Fuel poverty can have a significant effect on mental health. Increasing anxiety, depression and stress. A number of studies in the past have highlighted the links between temperature and mental health issues. Living in damp, cold housing and being in fuel debt is associated with an increase in poor mental health.
Fuel poverty can cause social isolation and exclusion. People living in cold homes are less likely to invite anyone in to their home. Others will go to places like the library and stay there all day to keep warm.
Fuel poverty can have a negative effect on educational attainment. Health problems due to living in a cold home can mean that children are off school more often. Often children living in such homes have no warm, separate room to do their homework. Substantial inequalities in attainment still persist between poorer children (those receiving free school meals) and other children.
Condition of housing
Living in fuel poverty can cause major problems on the condition of housing. Cold, uninsulated homes can have damp and condensation issues. Residents that are in fuel poverty are more likely to live in properties that are in disrepair or are energy inefficient. Typically, within the borough residents living in 1900’s terraced properties are more likely to be in some degree of fuel poverty. Living in a cold damp home can exacerbate certain health conditions such as asthma.
Fuel poverty can cause many issues with debt. Many households fall into debt because of a number of factors. These include loss of income, energy price increases, falling behind with energy payments and general inflation. Householders may need to borrow money, which further increase their debt. People and families in debt sometimes have a difficult choice between being able to afford to eat or heat the property.
Energy poverty has a close link with economic poverty.
The impact of fuel poverty can have a negative effect on the state of the economy. People living in cold homes or unheated homes are more likely to have physical and mental health conditions. The cost to the NHS and the strain it puts on these and other services such as social care can be major.