Living Without essential household appliances and the need for change.

In this guest post, Varun Kanish, Campaigns & Communications Manager at Turn2us discusses the charity’s #LivingWithout Campaign.

Turn2us  is a national charity that has a long history of helping people experiencing financial hardship get back on track. Over the years, the dedicated people in our Grants Team and affiliate organisations have spoken to many thousands of people who cannot afford to buy new or replace faulty white goods. 

Through our support service, Benefits Calculator and Grants Search tool, we have gained valuable insight, a database of case studies and statistics that help inform our efforts in policy reform, cross-sector partnerships and on-the-ground support services that make a real difference to those trapped in poverty or teetering on a financial cliff-edge.

Our campaign

Last month we published our #LivingWithout campaign report which outlined the scale of appliance poverty across the UK. 

At a time when 4.8m people are living without access to fridges or cookers, Turn2us are calling for more to be done to stop people #LivingWithout these essential household items.

You can find out more about the campaign here.

 #LivingWithout emerged out of an investigation into data we had collected which showed that a significant proportion of our grants were going toward the purchasing of white goods. What began as initial research into the reasons behind this grew to become our national campaign to tackle appliance poverty.

What we know

For many of us, appliances like a fridge or washing machine are items we take for granted and seldom consider living without, but for many people in the UK this is their stark reality.

Our research has revealed that a staggering 4.8 million people in the UK are living without essential household appliances. Breaking the information down further, we’ve found that:

  • 900,000 people are living without a fridge
  • 1.9 million people are living without a washing machine
  • 1.9 million are living without a cooker
  • 2.8 million people are living without a freezer

Living without a cooker at any time of year is a grim reality, but the financial impact alone is considerable. Families without access to this essential appliance on average spend 43% more on their food bill, which can amount to £1,365 more per year.

The problem isn’t insignificant, especially for low income households whose financial situation can be made more challenging as a result. Over a quarter of households with incomes under £10,000 a year were living without at least one of the four appliances we looked at.

Schemes and cross-sector support

Through this campaign we hope that the work we are doing to raise awareness of this important issue and its impacts, combined with our recommendations, will help to make a difference.  All of our recommendations to the Government, housing associations, charity and private sector can be found in ourLiving Without report.

In addition, with our easy-to-use Grants Search tool people can check if they’re eligible for support from over 1,500 grant-giving charities, including those who offer help with the cost of white goods. Last year we awarded a total of £3.4 million in grants to over 2,500 recipients.

We also have an online Benefits Calculator that enables people to check their entitlements to welfare benefits and tax credits. Last year, an estimated 114,000 households successfully claimed new benefits after using the calculator.

The additional income can go a long way to helping those living without afford essential household appliances.

Through our outreach, partnerships and research we have been able to build a campaign that can prompt policy change and swift action from business and services that can redress the balance of those who have and those who don’t have these basic white goods. We hope to help people find the right solutions for them with our services and through referrals to other schemes and organisations.

In particular, we plan to work with housing associations to explore how they can change their policies and practices to help reduce the likelihood of tenants Living Without. This includes having more furnished tenancies and changing practices around removing furnishings between tenancies.

If your organisation wants to get involved and support our campaign, we would love to hear from you and hope to work together to help struggling people live with hope, dignity and to thrive.

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