Millions across the UK are living without household essentials
New research from national poverty charity Turn2us reveals over two million households (4.8 million people) are living without essential household appliances such as fridges, freezers, cookers and washing machines.
The #LivingWithout campaign report, launched today, outlines the scale of appliance poverty across the UK. It also highlights the dire financial, physical and emotional consequences experienced by people living without these basic essentials; especially families and individuals affected by more complex physical and mental needs.
The analysis highlights the true scale of appliance poverty in the UK, with at least:
- 1.9 million people living without a cooker (1 in 20 earning under £35,000 a year)
- 2.8 million people living without a freezer (1 in 10)
- 900,000 people living without a fridge (1 in 30)
- 1.9 million people living without a washing machine (1 in 20)
While the national scale is staggering, certain demographics are considerably more affected than others, such as private renters, the self-employed, single adults and households on incomes below £10,000. Some regions are also worse off, including people living in London, the West Midlands, the North East and Yorkshire & the Humber.
Since 2017, Turn2us has spoken to over 10,000 people who use their service about living without and uncovered the impact of living without essential household appliances. These are broken down into three key areas: financial, physical and emotional. This is what some people have said:
- “It has a big impact on my life, it costs me money to go to launderette”
- “It is expensive to buy food already cooked, [but we have] limited options at home without a stove and oven”
- “My family have concerns over my weight loss, they cook me food to make sure I have eaten”
- “I have to wash by hand, which is painful [because of my arthritis]”
- “I have incontinence because of my epilepsy and I am unable to wash my clothes like I should, I feel so embarrassed”
- “It’s emotionally upsetting for myself that I cannot provide adequately for my son and it makes me feel so depressed that I work but still cannot afford basic essentials for my home”
The research and analysis from Turn2us shows that changes to welfare policy since 2010 has contributed significantly to the increase in appliance poverty.
The abolition of the Social Fund in 2013, which previously provided support for those living without essential household appliances, has specifically been identified as the single biggest erosion of help. Of the 100 grant giving charities Turn2us spoke to as part of this campaign, over 70% identified the abolition of this crisis fund as a turning point. As a result of this, Turn2us is campaigning to develop a new system of Local Welfare Assistance Schemes to adequately replace the Social Fund.
Thomas Lawson, Chief Executive at Turn2us, said: “Household appliances are not luxuries, they are essentials. Everyone deserves the simple right to store their own food, cook their own dinner and wash their own clothes.
“People who currently live without white goods face huge economic, physical and emotional penalties. We all want to live in a society where these social injustices are no longer tolerated.
“The Living Without report highlights the scale, impact and causes of living without. We have set out a series of recommendations that can eradicate the endemic problem. Policy-makers, housing associations, charities and companies now need to come together to make this a reality.”
Clive Lewis, MP for Norwich South, adds: “Living without white goods results in a harsh and highly stressful reality for people who are already some of the most marginalised in our society.
“Everyone deserves to live in a sustainable home fit for human habitation. I am proud to support Turn2us and their endeavours to affect change”