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Cold homes will damage children’s health, report warns

September 26, 2022

Cold homes will damage children’s lungs and brain development and lead to deaths this winter, health experts have warned.

Cold homes will damage children’s lungs and brain development and lead to deaths this winter, health experts have warned.

According to a new study, the UK is facing a “significant humanitarian crisis” as a result of growing economic pressures, including fuel costs.

Conducted by Sir Michael Marmot, the director of University College London’s Institute of Health Equity, and Prof Ian Sinha, a respiratory consultant at Liverpool’s Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, the review is stressing the need for the implementation of a national fuel poverty strategy to curb soaring bills and costs.

While the report doesn’t quantify the numbers potentially affected by cold homes, it does say there is “no doubt” there will be fatalities, poor mental health, and an increased risk of respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses amongst children and young people.

In the UK, 45 million people are forecast to face fuel poverty by January 2023.  The report’s authors say “millions of children’s development will be blighted” with lung damage, “toxic stress” that will affect brain development, and deepening educational inequalities as children struggle to keep up with school work in freezing homes.

Across all age groups, the cold crisis will cost thousands of lives, they warned.

“It’s simply insupportable in Britain in the 21st century to have so many people that are fuel insecure,” said Marmot, one of the world’s leading experts on public health inequalities.

“The government needs to act, and act right now. It’s clear we are facing a significant humanitarian crisis with thousands losing their lives and millions of children’s development blighted, leading to inequalities that will last a lifetime.”

The stark warnings come just weeks after the Resolution Foundation thinktank predicted the biggest squeeze in living standards across the UK in a century.

The organisation has claimed the crisis could last well into 2024 and see around three million people living in absolute poverty.

Related: Poverty and ethnicity linked to childhood cancer deaths

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