‘Choosing between eating or heating’: the cost of living crisis vs. Women

  • Women are struggling to heat their homes
  • New born babies are at risk attachment issues
  • The battle between food and heating

The Women and Equalities select committee are knuckling down on how the cost of living crisis is impacting women.

The committee opened their enquiry in September of 2023 and held its first meeting in December in order to discuss the issue and to come up with potential solutions.

Single parent households

Vandna Gohil, the CEO of Nottingham Women’s Centre, said that women who are single parents, are one of the main issues caused by the cost of living crisis.

She expressed how mothers are struggling to heat their homes and carry out everyday tasks due to the increase in bills.

Nottingham Women’s Centre carry out a service in hopes to help these women. Gohil said that:

‘more women are using our kitchen to cook hot meals…because they cannot do so elsewhere’ 

The increase in the use of their facilities is substantial.

Amanda Greenwood, who is the CEO at Lancashire Women, was also a witness for this meeting.

Greenwood raised concerns about the demand in their services too. She said how the need for baby necessities and food banks have tripled since the year 2022.

While healthy nutritious food is currently competing against bills and utilities, these charities are an essential for single mothers.

Long-term effects

Some of the long-term effects of this crisis is shocking.

It was discussed in the meeting that due to women not being able to heat their homes, they are unable to provide skin-to-skin contact for their young children.

There is also an increase in damp to cold homes and the inability to dry clothes.

As you can imagine, side effects like these can be very harmful to young children and charities have seen an increase in stress and poor mental health for the mothers.

Sophie Woodhead, who is the assistant director for Lambeth Early Action Partnership at Better Start, expressed how post natal mothers are more vulnerable to depression and anxiety.

Woodhead suggested ‘You can act right if you don’t feel right‘ with regards mothers facing these issues.

She also explained how the children of these mothers are likely to develop socioemotional attachment issues due to them feeling withdrawn from their mother.

Due to the increase in demand for services such as health visitors and midwives, staff are experiencing fatigue and many are leaving their jobs. Consistency is a major priority for early stages of life, creating a vicious cycle that urgently needs solutions.

Women who are at high-risk

The Chair of the committee, Rt Hon Caroline Nokes, wanted to get to the bottom of who is being affected the most by the cost of living crisis.

Young parents, Women with disabilities or women with children who have disabilities are evidently high risk according to the witnesses. But also ‘Women with no recourse to public funds are less likely to leave their abusers due to fears of getting deported or having their children taken away’.

The sad reality is that this issue is bigger than people would initially think, which is why the importance of these meetings is large.

For extra information on these charities or to donate, visit Nottingham Women’s Centre, A Better Start and Lancashire Women.