More than three million low-income households can’t afford to heat their homes during the current cold spell – putting their health at risk, according to a new study.
It comes as the Met Office warns that an arctic blast is hitting the UK, which could send overnight temperatures down to -10C over the weekend.
Drivers may face dangerous conditions on the road, with trains taking longer than usual.
The UK Health and Security Service has issued a cold weather warning – and says vulnerable people should warm their homes to at least 18 degrees Celsius, wear extra clothes and eat hot food to stay safe. protect yourself.
But about 710,000 households cannot afford to follow this advice because they cannot pay for warm clothing, heating and food, and another 2.5 million low-income families will be without food. and heating.
The study was conducted by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, and its senior economist Rachelle Earwaker said: “Dangerously cold weather on the horizon is cause for concern.
“People are being forced to bet their financial health and whether they can pay off more debt against their state of health when there isn’t enough heat, clothing or hot food.”
The survey of 4,251 people in the bottom 40% of incomes found that around 4.3 million people have cut the amount they spend on heating.
It also found that many families were late in paying their bills, owed an average of more than £1,600.
And temperatures will likely remain low for a while.
‘Arctic sea air mass’: Snow and ice forecast
The Met Office has extended its yellow weather warnings to Thursday and Friday, expecting ice over much of Northern Ireland, Wales, parts of northern England and most coastal areas. east and west of England.
The weather agency said the northern half of Scotland is likely to see snow and ice on both days.
Met Office chief meteorologist Steve Willington said: “As an Arctic sea air mass settles across the UK, temperatures will drop with widespread, severe overnight frosts in many places and daytime temperatures are only a few degrees above freezing.
“However, cold air from the North Pole will also bring brighter conditions, with some sunny, dry spells, especially away from the coast and where there’s light winds, you can feel comfortable in the sun. There is also the possibility of patchy freezing fog.
“Showers will turn into more winter with an increasing risk of snow as the week goes on, particularly in coastal areas or on higher ground.”
Beware of slippery roads and sidewalks
The Met Office says roads, sidewalks and bike lanes can all be slippery and motorists have also been warned to leave blankets in their vehicles in case the vehicle breaks down.
RAC spokesman Rod Dennis added: “Our advice is to be winter-ready – check that the tires are properly inflated and have good tread, and add oil, coolant and screen cleaner if needed.
“Drivers with an older battery in their car may also want to let their car run for an extra 20 minutes before colder weather arrives to ensure the battery can withstand sub-zero temperatures.
“Fully charged cell phone batteries and carry a damage blanket to keep warm is also worth doing.”
No gas for heating or cooking for five days
Meanwhile, around 2,000 homes in the Sheffield area of Stannington have been without gas for five days and some may not have supplies until the weekend.
A pipeline burst on Friday night – sending hundreds of thousands of liters of water into the gas network.
Sheffield City Council leader Terry Fox said authorities had declared it a serious incident so staff could be reassigned to the area.
Asked about the coming cold, Mr. Fox said: “We’re very worried… but, honestly, what we’ve seen is a real deep sense of community where people are helping. help individuals.”
Sheffield Hallam Labor MP Olivia Blake said she had asked Prime Minister Jeremy Hunt for emergency funding for the council and raised the issue in the Commons on Wednesday, but said she had not received a response.
Cadent, the company that operates the gas network, said 150 people were working day and night to fix the problem and they had begun to resume gas to some homes.