Published: 20 April 2016

Authors: Kimberley O’Sullivan, Lucy Telfar Barnard, Helen Viggers, Philippa Howden-Chapman

    Click to access online: Child and youth fuel poverty: assessing the known and unknown

    The broad health effects of fuel poverty include both the physiological and psychosocial effects of exposure to adverse indoor temperatures. Fuel poverty poses a greater risk to groups spending more time at home, including older people, people with disabilities or chronic illness, and families with young children. To date, fuel poverty research has focused on the first two of these groups, while few studies have specifically explored the outcomes of fuel poverty for children. Very little fuel poverty research has been undertaken with children or youth living in cold homes. This paper outlines the literature describing the effects of fuel poverty and cold housing on children and young people and presents new statistical analysis supporting the targeting of fuel poverty policy on households with children. We introduce current research investigating the effects of living in, or living at risk of, fuel poverty on children and youth in New Zealand. We argue that proposed changes to the Residential Tenancies Act need to be strengthened and should include current standard insulation, which is proven to be a cost-effective measure in terms of health, particularly the health of children and young people.