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Living Without research

Read more about our research into the effects of not having basic household items

Find out more about the research behind the #LivingWithout campaign.

How many private renters are living without white goods?

One in four private renters (24%), earning on or below the average national household income, is living without basic essentials. Of the 4.5 million renting households in the UK, as many as 1,080,000 are living in homes without basic household appliances, while paying extortionate rents. Results from Turn2us’ survey found that:

  • 4% are living without a fridge
  • 14% are living without a freezer
  • 9% are living without a cooker
  • 12% are living without a washing machine.

How many people are living without a cooker?

In December 2018 we surveyed 2,000 people across the country earning on or below the national household income of £35,204. We found that:

  • Over one in 20 are living without a cooker
  • Almost one in 10 private renters are living without a cooker
  • Six percent of people with disabilities are living without a cooker
  • Eight percent of single people are living without a cooker
  • Around one in 12 self-employed are living without a cooker
  • Six percent of working aged people are living without a cooker
  • Nearly one in 12 people earning below £15,000 are living without a cooker

#LivingWithout and the poverty premium

Earlier in 2018 we wrote a submission to an APPG inquiry focusing on the poverty premium associated with living without basic white goods.

How many of Turn2us' users are living without?

We conducted initial research in 2017 of people who used our services to find out how many were living without appliances. The most striking findings were that:

  • 46% didn’t have a fridge
  • 45% didn’t have a cooker
  • 49% didn’t have a washing machine
  • 52% didn’t have a freezer

We undertook further research to better understand the impact of living without basic household items and identified several areas of concern:

Failing appliances

One in three of those surveyed had a household appliance that needed to be replaced, with respondents saying that they had an appliance that was faulty, broken or old.

Several reported being very concerned about this, with those surveyed saying:

  • “I am living in fear, stress, anxiety and afraid of fire and loss of even more goods”
  • “The cooker is rusty and seems dangerous”
  • “The cooker is not working properly and is overheating, I'm scared it could cause a fire”
  • “It is a worry, possible fire hazard and is totally inefficient.”

Asked why they hadn’t replaced the appliance:

  • 88% of people said that they didn’t have the money to purchase a new appliance
  • 22% weren’t able to access credit to replace
  • 13% didn’t want to access credit.

Using credit

A high number of people use credit to purchase home appliances, with:

  • 17% saying that they used a credit card to make the purchase
  • 10% saying that they used an overdraft
  • 10% saying that they used a store card.

Many said that they used high cost credit to buy home appliances, with:

  • 13% saying that they used hire-purchase
  • 8% saying that they used a payday loan.

Budgeting

Budgeting is much harder without household appliances such as a fridge or freezer, with those surveyed saying that they:

  • “Can't take advantage of buying larger quantities of food to lower cost because freezer keeps defrosting”
  • “Can’t buy much freezer foods so have to buy day by day”
  • ”Can’t buy food in bulk as often can get ruined.”

Emotional wellbeing

Psychological and mental impact was also a key theme with people saying:

  • “It makes me feel that I am having to struggle”
  • “It creates misery”
  • “It makes me really depressed”
  • “Adds to stress and worry.”

Health

Physical health concerns with many saying that they were more likely to become ill as a result of not being able to refrigerate their food or cook it properly, saying that they were:

  • “Unable to have healthy meals”
  • “Unable to keep things cool”
  • “With only one ring, I can't make good healthy meals.”

Cleanliness

Cleanliness and the stigma of wearing unclean clothes was also an issue raised frequently as not being able to wash clothes as often as they would like to or having to hand wash them was also having a very negative impact on people, with respondents saying:

  • “Clothes often look and smell unclean”
  • “Dirty clothes make depression and anxiety worse”
  • “I have smelly clothing”
  • “My clothes never smell fresh and I don’t feel well”
  • “I wear clothes that are not clean, I can't change my bedding as often as I would like. It is very unpleasant and embarrassing.”

Children

Parenting and childcare, raising children without basic household appliances is leaving people to feel they were letting their children down and worried about the effect on them, saying:

  • “I can't cook meals for my children”
  • “I feel I'm not doing my job as a mother, as I'm unable to provide a daily nutritious meal for my two children”
  • “I am unable to feed and clean mine and my children's clothes without a washing machine and cooker”
  • “I work full time and have to hand wash all our clothes, when I should be spending time with my toddler”
  • “It makes it very difficult as our daughter is on the autistic spectrum and is very difficult when it comes to cleanliness and food.”