Parliamentary e-petition 604509 calls on the Government to create a ‘National Sleep Strategy’ to end child bed poverty.

The Government responded to the petition on 23 March 2022. The response stated that ‘the government is tackling the underlying causes that lead to children being deprived of sleep’ and outlines Government support for households. The full Government response can be viewed on the e-petition homepage.


‘Child bed poverty’ is a term used to describe a situation where a child does not have access to a bed.

‘Bed poverty’, just like food poverty, fuel poverty, and period poverty, describes a situation in which a household does not have enough income to afford necessary items. This is sometimes referred to as material deprivation or destitution.

Material deprivation

A person is described as being in material deprivation if they cannot afford specific essential items. The Department for Work and Pensions’ Households Below Average Incomes survey collects data on material deprivation for children by asking questions about whether parents have access to specific goods. The most relevant statistics to bed poverty include:

  • 26% of children have parents who want to replace worn out furniture but can’t afford to do so.
  • 19% of children have parents who want to have a bedroom for every child aged 10+ of a different gender but cannot afford to do so.

The chart shows the proportion of all children lacking key goods or services:


Source: DWP, Households Below Average Income, 2020/21

Section 13 of the Library briefing Poverty in the UK: statistics provides more data on material deprivation.


The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), a poverty think tank and charity, publish regular reports on destitution. They define destitution as the circumstances facing people who cannot afford to buy the absolute essentials that we all need to eat, stay warm and dry, and keep clean. Destitution in the UK 2020 is their most recent report.

According to the JRF, 2.4 million people experienced destitution at some point during 2019.

Food banks

Destitution is often discussed in teh UK context with reference to food banks. The Trussell Trust provides data on the number of emergency parcels given out by Trussell Trust food banks. Note that Trussell Trust food banks are likely to only make up around two thirds of all UK foodbanks so these figures are incomplete.

Between 1 April and 30 September 2022, the Trussell Truss gave out 1.3 emergency food parcels, a third more than in the same period in 2021 and 50% more than pre-pandemic levels. Around 500,000 of these parcels were for children.

The Library briefing Food banks in the UK provides statistics on food banks.


House of Commons Library

Rising cost of living in the UK

Poverty in the UK: statistics

Food Banks in the UK

Food poverty: Households, food banks and free school meals

Child poverty constituency dashboard

External reports and websites

Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Destitution in the UK, 9 December 2020

Department for Work and Pensions, Households below average income (HBAI) statistics, 31 March 2022

Trussell Trust, Almost 1.3 million emergency parcels provided in last 6 months, 10 November 2022

End furniture poverty

Academic studies about the effect of poor quality sleep on children and young people

Mental Health Foundation, Taking Sleep Seriously: Sleep and our Mental Health, October 2020

Hayes, B., Bainton, J. The impact of reduced sleep on school related outcomes for typically developing children aged 11–19: A systematic review. School Psychology International. 2020 Sept 30. 41( 6):569-594. Available from:

Zhang X, Dimitriou D and Halstead EJ (2021) Sleep, Anxiety, and Academic Performance: A Study of Adolescents From Public High Schools in ChinaFront. Psychol. 12:678839. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.678839

Related posts