In an era of austerity the dilemma many people on low incomes face about whether to ‘heat or eat’ has received a lot of attention. But, there has been little evidence to assess this phenomena. Now a new research project – ‘Heat or Eat: Food and Austerity in Rural England’ – jointly led by Dr Hannah Lambie-Mumford, a Faculty Research Fellow at SPERI, and Dr Carolyn Snell from the Department of Social Policy and Social Work at the University of York, has considered this dilemma and has just published its findings.
The final report of ‘Heat or Eat: Food and Austerity in Rural England is available here. Dr Lambie-Mumford and Dr Snell’s research suggests there is a ‘heat or eat’ dilemma but that the dilemma facing poorer households is nuanced and complex. For many people heating or eating is not an either/or decision. For example, other energy uses such as lighting and hot water are prioritised over heating. The research also sheds new light on rural poverty and the specific challenges facing rural communities. These include stretched public services, limited public transport , scarce and energy inefficient housing, and reduced access to cheaper forms of fuel such as mains gas.
The project was funded by the Communities & Culture Network+ and also benefited from the input of Professor Elizabeth Dowler (University of Warwick) and support from National Energy Action and the Trussell Trust foodbank Network.
You can find out more about Dr Lambie-Mumford’s research interests here.