A new report from the Society of St Vincent de Paul has shown that there are around 140,000 children living in homes with a leaking roof, damp walls, or floors.

That is in addition to the 4,000 children currently living in emergency accommodation.

The report - Growing up in the Cold - also shows over half of the poorest children in families reliant on social welfare are not in receipt of the Fuel Allowance.

Analysis of data from a sample of 9,000 five-year-olds shows that living in an inadequately heated home is linked to an increased risk of asthma and more frequent antibiotic use in young children.

It also found that one-in-seven single parent families are in severe energy poverty.

The report brings together analysis of the European Survey of Income and Living Conditions and the Growing up in Ireland Study, to provide comprehensive information on the extent and nature of energy poverty in households with children.

SVP Head of Social Justice Dr Tricia Keilthy said: "This report clearly shows that children are one of the groups most exposed to the risk of energy poverty and that growing up in a cold home has a distinct negative impact on a child's health.

"The findings suggest that policy levers to alleviate energy poverty and improve the quality of the housing stock will lead to significant health benefits and a reduction in health expenditure in the future".

The report found that in 2018, 10.5% of one parent households said they could not afford to adequately heat their home - the highest rate for all household types - and that 31% of single parents are spending 10% of their income on energy.

It also found that 11% of households with children were in arrears on their utility bills, compared to 3.3% of households with one adult over the age of 65 and 4.7% of all households without dependent children.

The report states differences were statistically significant and remain when controlling for a wide range of family and household characteristics.