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Families cutting back on heating and food as nearly half of country worried about money going into 2022

  • New polling data from Save the Children also shows that more than a quarter of adults say they’ll struggle to afford food this year 

Money worries could see almost four million households going without heating in 2022, according to new polling data. 

The research, commissioned by Save the Children, reveals that in the year ahead more than one in ten (13%) of UK adults expect they’ll have to turn off the heating when it’s cold.

The children’s charity is warning that children will suffer due to the “triple whammy” of coronavirus, rising living costs and the cut to Universal Credit taking their toll on family finances. UK inflation recently hit a 10-year high, and may rise further in 2022.

More than 2 in 5 (44%) respondents also said they were worried about money going into 2022. As a result of financial pressures, more than half (54%) are concerned about being able to pay their household bills and more than a quarter (28%) say they’ll struggle to afford food. 

Asked about the main causes of their money worries:

  • 7 in 10 (71%) said that rising costs of living (e.g. prices of food, energy, heating and fuel) were a main cause of their money worries 
  • Almost 1 in 3 (32%) said their wages were too low to cover their living costs 
  • Nearly one in five (17%) have lost their job or fear they will in 2022. 
  • Almost a fifth of all respondents (19%) reported that their Universal Credit payments were too low to cover their living costs 

1 in 10 (10%) parents surveyed were also worried that financial difficulties may result in their child finding it harder to keep up at school, while a similar number (11%) were worried that their child would have to miss out on school trips, sports or other extra-curricular activities.

As the latest wave of coronavirus threatens wages and job security, and energy costs and taxes set to rise in Spring, Save the Children is urging the UK government to provide families with financial assistance to help them cope in the year ahead.

Dan Paskins, Director of UK Impact at Save the Children, said:

“In the year 2022, every child in the UK should be guaranteed enough food to eat and a warm home to learn, sleep and play in. 

“But today’s findings confirm that, as costs of food and fuel rise more quickly than incomes, millions of families in the UK are worrying about how they’ll stay afloat in the year ahead.

“Parents we work with tell us that they’re having to choose between heating their homes and buying clothes for their children. Many are constantly worried about meeting basic costs like food and bills. And children are paying the price, whether through missing out on sports or school trips or struggling to keep up at school because they’re cold at home.

“This pandemic has made it clear that we need a strong social security system to support families when things get tough. The previous boost to Universal Credit was a lifeline for families up and down the country. A targeted increase to Universal Credit would help families and provide some much needed relief for those facing hardship in the year ahead.”

In April 2020 Save the Children launched Emergency Response grants to support families living in poverty and impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. These grants provide essential household items such as table and chairs, beds, pushchairs, supermarket vouchers to buy food, as well as a package of play & learning activities, toys and resources to support early learning at home. Since launching, Save the Children have distributed 8,215 grants to families, supporting almost 18,000 children across the UK.

For more information on Save the Children, visit www.savethechildren.org.uk  



  • OnePoll surveyed 2,000 UK Adults who celebrate Christmas from 19th-23rd November 2021. The survey was conducted online via the OnePoll website, polling our panel members who are paid to participate in surveys. Respondents who celebrate Christmas were targeted using both personal profile data and screening questions in order to ensure the correct demographic was achieved.