More than one in 20 children in the UK are sleeping on the floor – Community Practitioner

A further one in 10 has had to share a bed with another family member, causing tiredness, embarrassment or anxiety, reveals Barnardo’s.

Based on data gathered from a YouGov survey commissioned by Barnardo’s, there could be as many as 700,000 children sharing beds, and 440,000 sleeping on the floor in the UK.

Barnardo’s workers have also reported concern over the lack of adequate bedding for families struggling during the cost-of-living crisis. Frontline staff have said families cannot afford to replace or repair broken beds, and are sleeping on dirty, mouldy or soiled bedding. There is also concern families are using bedding that does not provide adequate warmth, as temperatures start to drop.

‘I often see families sharing mattresses on the floor with no sheets on or badly soiled duvets,’ said one Barnardo’s worker. ‘These items come very low on the list of items to purchase when families are struggling to make ends meet, especially since the rise in food bills and heating bills.’

In light of these findings, Barnardo’s is calling for the government to do more to support families in crisis. They recommend:

  • End the two-child limit on benefits for families with more than two children: parents are being denied £3235 per year per child.
  • Implement an Essentials Guarantee: a campaign by the Joseph Rowntree foundation, the guarantee would protect those on Universal Credit from going without essential items.
  • Extend the Household Support Fund: the fund is due to end in March 2024, meaning families in crisis are likely to lose essential support.

Barnardo’s CEO, Lynn Perry MBE, has said:

‘It is unacceptable that at least one child in every classroom is sleeping in the floor because they don’t have a bed of their own, in one of the richest countries in the world.

‘Families in crisis are having to prioritise essentials such as food, heating and electricity over things like replacing mouldy bedding or fixing a rotten or broken bed. Children are sharing beds and sleeping on the floor, all of which is affecting their development, attendance at school and their mental health.

‘The Government must take urgent action to address these deep-rooted issues.’

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