As the UK experiences an Arctic cold snap, millions cannot afford to heat their homes

Research shows that more than 3 million households in the UK with low incomes cannot heat their homes due to the Arctic’s “dangerously cold” weather front.

The UK Health Security Agency has issued an alert regarding cold weather. It recommends that vulnerable individuals heat their homes to 18C and wear extra layers to keep from falling temperatures.

Ministers confirmed that cold weather payments would be made to people living in over 300 areas of England and Wales in the next few days. The £25 payments will be activated if the average temperature drops to 0C for seven consecutive days.

According to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s analysis, 710,000 households will struggle to pay for heating, clothing and food.

It was estimated that a fifth of 2.5 million low-income households went without heating or food. A JRF survey of 4,251 individuals in the bottom 40% of incomes found that approximately 4.3 million people had reduced their heating spending before the cold season.

Since June, more than 7 million households went without any of the essentials. The JRF will release its complete report next week.

This year, 2.4 million households borrowed money or used credit in order to pay their bills. They are now faced with the difficult decision of whether to borrow more money to heat their homes to the recommended level by doctors.

Rachelle Earwaker is a senior economist at JRF. She stated: “The government has to see that families won’t be able to get through winter with the current levels of support.

“Hundreds of thousands of households have to choose between heating up or turning it off. We found that they can’t afford to buy anything to help them protect themselves against the chilling effects of falling temperatures.

We are still experiencing high inflation, and prices for essentials are still climbing. Energy bills are almost twice as high as last winter, despite being capped. Budgets are being overburdened by rising rents, mortgage payments and housing shortages.

She expressed concern about the dangers of extreme cold temperatures. “People are being forced into wagering their financial health and whether or not they can afford more credit, against their wellbeing, without enough heat, clothing, or hot food.”

Earwalker said that the basic social security level was “woefully lower” than what would be required to allow people to purchase essentials.

The foundation is asking the government to modify universal credit and increase basic support.


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