Money Wellness
A little girl wrapped up in a blanket sleeps on the floor
category iconcost of living
calendar icon29 Sep 2023

One child in every class sleeping on the floor due to cost-of-living crisis

More than one in 20 children (6%) have slept on the floor over the past year because their family can’t afford a bed for them, a new survey has revealed.

The questionnaire carried out on behalf of children’s charity Bernardo’s also found one in 10 children (9%) have shared a bed with another family member because they didn’t have a bed of their own.

According to Bernardo’s, the results of the survey mean there are an estimated 700,000 children sharing beds and 440,000 sleeping on the floor across the UK.

Tired, embarrassed, anxious and unhappy

One in 12 parents (8%) said their kids were tired all the time due a lack of quality sleep.

The children themselves said it left them feeling tired at school, embarrassed (e.g. when going through puberty), anxious or unhappy.

Extremely concerned

Bernardo’s frontline workers say they are extremely concerned about the impact the cost-of-living crisis is having on struggling families.

They provided numerous distressing examples of the issues families are facing, including:

  • being unable to replace or repair broken beds
  • sleeping on the sofa
  • using dirty, mouldy or soiled mattresses and bedding
  • not having enough bedding to keep them warm

One worker said:

“I often see families sharing mattresses on the floor with no sheets on or badly soiled duvets. 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. On some occasions, children and mum are all sleeping in one bed.”

Help provided by Bernardo’s

Since October last year, Bernardo’s crisis support has helped 7,200 families. This has included helping them to buy beds, mattresses, duvets, blankets and sheets.

Government must act

The charity is calling on the government to:

  • end the two-child limit on benefits, which means parents with more then two children are denied £3,235 per child per year
  • implement the essentials guarantee proposed by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation that would ensure that, at a minimum, universal credit protects people from going without essential items
  • extend the Household Support Fund so families in crisis can get help from their local council with essentials like beds and bedding for their children

Bernardo’s CEO Lynn Perry said:

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

“Bed poverty is just one aspect of child poverty, yet it starkly illustrates the challenges faced by families not having enough money to afford the essentials needed to raise happy and healthy children.”

Avatar of Rebecca Routledge

Rebecca Routledge

A qualified journalist for over 15 years with a background in financial services. Rebecca is Money Wellness’s consumer champion, helping you improve your financial wellbeing by providing information on everything from income maximisation to budgeting and saving tips.

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