07/02/2014 07:13 GMT | Updated 08/04/2014 06:59 BST

No Child Should Have to Grow Up in a Cold Home

The launch of Cold Homes Week this week is a harsh reminder that millions of children across the UK are growing up in cold homes.

New figures reveal that over two million children in England are living in fuel poverty - an alarming 26% rise over last year.

It is unacceptable that any child in this country is growing up in a cold home. Our recent report, Behind Cold Doors: The chilling reality for children in poverty, revealed that nearly three million families are likely to cut back on food this winter so they can pay their energy bills. And five million families -- two-thirds of parents living in the UK -are likely to turn their heating down because they can't afford to pay for it. (1)

Every day we see families whose homes are so cold that their clothes have nowhere to dry properly.

Parents who spend days in libraries to keep warm, only turning the heating on for up to a couple of hours a day when their children come home from school. Tragically, some families struggle even to do this.

Over 2.6million families say they are worried that their children will become ill because they are likely to have to turn their heating down. But, many parents who are having to make harsh choices between the basics, have no other option.

The reality is that a new 'heat or eat' generation is growing up in Britain. But, however great the problem is, solutions are possible.

One simple practical measure that The Children's Society is calling on the government to do that would make a real difference is to make sure all families with children living in poverty automatically get the Warm Home Discount. This £135 rebate paid by energy companies to low-income, vulnerable households, is critical to helping them meet their energy costs.

Despite its importance and these children's needs, these families are not automatically entitled to this key support, meaning those most in need do not always get it. Making this change would be a crucial start to addressing the problem of cold homes and would help put an end to parents having to make harsh choices between the basics.

Take action and help make sure no child grows up in a cold home.

To check Warm Home Discount eligibility, see our new fuel poverty calculator.

(1) See The Children's Society's new report, Behind Cold Doors: The chilling reality for children in poverty. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from a survey we carried out with YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2011 adults of which 468 respondents had children aged under 18years living in their household. Fieldwork was undertaken between 22 and 25 November 2013. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).