Thousands of people in Yorkshire living without cookers, washing machines and fridges

Thousands of vulnerable people across the region are living without essential kitchen appliances, new research shows.

Without washing machines parents of disabled children can struggle to keep their clothes and bedding clean

Some 6 per cent of households are living without either a cooker, fridge, freezer or washing machine, with that number rising to 16 per cent among disabled people.

Across the UK there are 4.8 million people in appliance poverty, the report by welfare charity, Turn 2 Us finds.

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One charity that offers grants to vulnerable people in Yorkshire without adequate household appliances said the situation put the “health and welfare of disabled people at risk”.

This manifests in a number of ways, including extra costs when people cannot store food safely, a poor diet, poor hygiene and emotional difficulties, as the report shows living without can leave people feeling unhappy, anxious, and with worse mental health.

Children were particularly worse affected, the report, called Living Without, said.

Cheryl Ward, chief executive of Family Fund, said: “Appliance poverty is putting the health and welfare of disabled people at risk - and that includes disabled children.

“Dirty or damp clothing and bedding increases the risk of infections for those with vulnerable immune systems. Faulty or broken fridges mean that essential daily medication cannot be stored, neither can special foods or liquids for everyday feeding. No cooker for hot meals means children with bowel disease or other conditions that tolerate cold foods risk their medication becoming ineffective.

“The cost of alternatives, such as using high cost credit or taking out loans, increase financial hardship. It also costs three times more to raise a disabled child than other children, with many parents having to reduce or give up work to care for their child.”

The report also highlights the impact of the replacement of the national Social Fund, which provided financial or essential goods support for people in crisis, by Local Welfare Assistance Schemes (LWAS) in 2013.

Since being passed from central government to local authorities, a decrease in funding, lack of ring-fencing or protecting funding for this specific purpose and lack of guidance in how to deliver support has resulted in a wide variation and a “postcode lottery” of provision, with more than 25 LWAS closing completely.

Family Fund, which makes grants to low income families with disabled or seriously ill children made more than 6,800 grants for either a cooker, fridge/freezer or washing machine last year.