There are currently around 2.23 million children, in 1.08 million families, in fuel poverty (close to half the total number of households, as newly defined) in England. Fuel poverty has severe and long-lasting effects, including on children’s respiratory problems, mental health, hospital admission rates, developmental status, educational attainment and emotional well-being, among other impacts. For these reasons, take-up of fuel poverty assistance among families is a key concern for policy-makers, service providers and energy companies.
Community-based approaches using trusted intermediaries can be a cost-effective way to engage vulnerable households. One group of local intermediaries is Sure Start Children’s Centres. There are around 3,116 Children’s Centres in England, often located in low-income areas. Our analysis has shown that an estimated 77% of fuel poor families live within one mile of a Children’s Centre. This means these centres offer a potentially valuable opportunity for engaging families with fuel poverty support.
This research project reviewed a range of fuel poverty schemes aimed at families, especially those run through Children’s Centres. It also involved an in-depth evaluation of one specific scheme based in Mortimer House Children’s Centre, a centre in Bradford run by The Children’s Society. Findings show that Children’s Centres can play a significant role in engaging fuel poor families, especially if schemes are long-term and work in partnership with other local organisations. Based on this research, we make recommendations for how local authorities, government, energy companies and the third sector can support engagement with fuel poor families through Children’s Centres.
Further details can be found in the Reaching Fuel Poor Families Research Report or the executive summary. A separate report provides recommendations for the Mortimer House scheme, and aims to inform the development of this work and a potential roll-out to other centres.