Closed petition Create a ‘National Sleep Strategy’ to end child bed poverty

As a teacher in 2018 I started a bed poverty charity, since then schools have referred 1400 children without beds. Bed poverty is affecting educational outcomes for children across the UK

A national sleep strategy must resource local authorities to identify, address and ultimately end bed poverty

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‘Sleep should be acknowledged as a key public health issue, which is as crucial for our wellbeing as diet or exercise.’ -Mental Health Foundation

Buttle UK 2018 estimated up to 400,000 children in the UK didn’t have a bed.

Schools, national media outlets and third sector organisations- including Zarach- have documented the impact of long term tiredness on a child’s capacity to learn & the increasing rates of bed poverty due to the pandemic & the surge of families fleeing domestic abuse.

This petition is closed All petitions run for 6 months

18,496 signatures

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Parliament debated this topic

This topic was debated on 19 December 2022

Watch the petition 'Create a ‘National Sleep Strategy’ to end child bed poverty' being debated

Government responded

This response was given on 23 March 2022

Sleep is vital to children’s health, development and wellbeing. The government is tackling the underlying causes that lead to children being deprived of sleep.

The government recognises how vital sleep is to ensuring children and young people have the energy they need to perform at their best. We also recognise that the causes of poverty, including bed poverty, are various which is why we are adopting a holistic, sustainable, long-term approach to tackling it backed by £240bn of funding through our welfare system.

Councils in England are already empowered to establish local welfare provision in their area. Many of them run programmes that help vulnerable and struggling households to meet essential costs. Local authorities are also responsible for delivering children’s social care which includes ensuring that children and young people are getting what they need to live happy, healthy lives. This government has boosted real-terms funding to councils: the social care grant has increased significantly from £410m in 2019 to £1.7bn this year.

On top of targeted support through local councils, we are providing £695m from 2022-25 to extend our Supporting Families programme. This scheme helps disadvantaged families who are facing multiple and complex problems from unemployment and the risk of homelessness to poor mental and physical health.

The Department for Work and Pensions gives support to benefit claimants to spread the cost of buying the most essential furniture for any home, like beds and mattresses. People who have been receiving Universal Credit for at least six months can apply for a Budgeting Advance, while those who have been claiming legacy benefits for at least six months can access Social Fund Budgeting Loans.

The government recognises that a combination of cold temperatures and poor heating affects everyone’s ability to get a good night’s sleep. We recently announced a package of support to help households with rising energy bills. This includes:

- A £200 discount on their energy bill.
- A £150 non-repayable rebate in Council Tax bills for all households in Bands A-D in England.
- £144m of discretionary funding for councils to help struggling households not eligible for the Council Tax rebate.

The devolved administrations are also receiving around £715m funding through the Barnett formula.

Energy bills are one of the primary causes of cost-of-living pressures, but there are other drivers. The government is investing £12bn this year to ease the pinch on people’s wallets. Help is being specifically tailored to the most vulnerable and this includes the £421m Household Support Fund for councils in England to help families with the cost of food, utilities and wider essentials. The devolved administrations are receiving almost £80m through the government, under the Barnett Formula, to set up equivalent support schemes.

We know the difference that full time work makes as one of the most effective ways of eliminating poverty and this is evident in the latest statistics (2019/20) which showed that the absolute poverty rate, before housing costs of a child, where both parents work full-time was only 3% compared to 42% where one or more parents are in part-time work. Our holistic approach to poverty recognises this fact and through our expanded, multi-billion-pound Plan for Jobs we are helping people across the country to find work and to boost their wages and career prospects.

To help schools tackle the challenges facing disadvantaged pupils and to improve children’s educational achievement and wellbeing, we have provided pupil premium funding since 2011.

School leaders use this extra funding to tailor support, based on the needs of their disadvantaged pupils, and to invest in proven practices that improve outcomes. These approaches are designed to support pupils’ capacity to learn while boosting their mental and physical wellbeing. We have increased total pupil premium funding from £600m in 2011-12 to over £2.5bn in 2021-22 and it will rise to over £2.6bn in 2022/23.

The government also remains committed to backing mental health and wellbeing support services in education in the years ahead. Last year we announced £17m of funding to build on existing mental health support and we have also invested over £9.5m to fund training for senior mental health leads in over 8,000 schools and colleges.

To cover approximately 35% of all pupils by 2023 we are increasing the number of Mental Health Support Teams in schools and colleges to around 400. These teams provide early intervention on mild to moderate mental health issues as well as helping staff to provide a ‘whole school approach’ to mental health and wellbeing.

We know some children in bed poverty cannot sleep or properly concentrate at school because they are also hungry or suffering from malnutrition. We are continuing provision of Free School Meals to children from households that are out of work or on low incomes is of the utmost importance to the Government. This programme ensures that children receive healthy, nutritious meals to help them learn, play and rest.

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities

Overdue Government response to petition chased by Petitions Committee

The Petitions Committee, the group of MPs who consider e-petitions, have written to the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove MP, regarding the overdue Government response to this e-petition.

Read the Committee's letter:

The letter asks the Government to provide a response to the petition and an explanation of the delay by Wednesday 23 March.

Government departments are meant to submit a response, including a revised response, within 21 days. A response to this petition was first requested by the Committee on 24 January, but the Government has not responded.

Because the response to this petition is now several weeks overdue, the Committee has written to the Government asking them to explain the delay, and to provide their revised response to this petition.

In the letter, the Chair of the Petitions Committee Catherine McKinnell highlights how important it is that Government departments provide a prompt response that directly addresses the request of a petition, when this receives over 10,000 signatures.

The Government's explanation for the delay, and their response, will be shared with petitioners by email and on the Committee's website.

Government apologies for late response to a petition you signed

The Minister of State for Equalities and Levelling Up Communities - Kemi Badenoch MP - has apologised for the delay in providing the Government's response to e-petition 604509, entitled “Create a ‘National Sleep Strategy’ to end child bed poverty”.

Read the Minister's letter:

The Minister explained that her department needed considerable contributions from other departments in order to provide a suitable response for you and the petitioners. She also said that her department understands that replies are expected in a timely fashion and works hard to meet these.

Read the Government's response to this petition, which was published on 24 March:

Catherine McKinnell MP questions the Prime Minister on bed poverty at the Liaison Committee

The Prime Minister appeared before the Liaison Committee on Tues 20 December.

Chair of the Petitions Committee, Catherine McKinnell MP, questioned the Prime Minister on a number of issues including child bed poverty in the UK.

Watch the Liaison Committee back

Read the transcript of the Liaison Committee

This was following a debate of the Petitions Committee on Mon 19 December relating to
the petition on child bed poverty.

Watch the debate relating to child bed poverty

Read the transcript of the debate relating to child bed poverty

What is the Liaison Committee?

The Liaison Committee is made up of Select Committee Chairs. It considers the overall work of select committees, promotes the questioning of the Government and chooses committee reports for debates. It questions the Prime Minister about policy, usually three times a year.

Find out more about the Liaison Committee

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MPs debate child bed poverty

The Petitions Committee scheduled a debate in the House of Commons on the petition you signed. This took place on Monday 19 December 2023. The Chair of the Committee, Catherine McKinnell MP, opened the debate.

Read a summary of what was said, watch the debate and access other relevant material:

Child Bed Poverty

What are petitions debates?

Petitions debates are ‘general’ debates which allow MPs from all parties to discuss the important issues raised by one or more petitions and put their concerns to Government Ministers.

Petition debates don’t end with a vote to implement the request of a petition. This means that MPs will not vote on changing indefinite leave to remain fees at the end of the debate.

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