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Millions cannot afford to heat homes as UK faces Arctic snap,front%20arrives%20from%20the%20Arctic.

More than 3 million low-income UK households cannot afford to heat their homes, according to research, as a “dangerously cold” weather front arrives from the Arctic.

The UK Health Security Agency has issued a cold weather alert recommending vulnerable people warm their homes to at least 18C, wear extra layers and eat hot food to protect themselves from plummeting temperatures.

Ministers also confirmed that people in more than 300 postcode areas in England and Wales would receive cold weather payments in the coming days. The £25 payments are triggered when the average temperature is 0C or less for seven days in a row.

But about 710,000 households will still struggle to pay for warm clothing, heating and food, according to analysis by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

A fifth of the 2.5 million low-income households were going without food and heating, it estimated. The JRF survey, of 4,251 people in the bottom 40% of incomes, which was conducted last month, also estimated that about 4.3 million households had curbed their spending on heating before the cold spell.

More than 7 million households have gone without at least one of the essentials since June, the JRF will say when its full report is released next week.

About 2.4 million households have borrowed money or used credit to cover their bills so far this year. The current cold snap means households with vulnerable people face the impossible decision over whether to take on more debt to heat their home to the level recommended by health professionals.