Nearly one in three parents (30%) are worried about being made homeless, and almost half (49%) worry about keeping their home warm for their children, according to new research published by children’s charity Barnardo’s which reveals the latest impacts for families that are struggling financially.
More than one in seven (16%) parents say their children have had to share a bed with them, their partner or a sibling during the winter months, because they cannot afford another bed. Worryingly, one in 14 parents (7%) say they are still having to share beds right now.
The YouGov poll of 1,010 parents of children in the UK aged 18 or under also revealed that half (49%) worry about their children missing out on experiencing a normal childhood due to them having to make cost-of-living cutbacks. Nearly one in four (23%) have recently struggled to provide sufficient food for their children due to the cost-of-living crisis.
Barnardo’s Scotland is deeply concerned about the impact of poverty on the children it supports. The charity is publishing a new report recently – A Crisis On Our Doorstep – which reveals how the cost-of-living crisis has affected some of the children, families and young people using the charity’s services across Scotland during winter 2022/23.
The charity has supported families where children were sleeping on cushions on floors, parents were having to limit the number of their children’s baths and turn the heating off, and parents resorting to forgoing proper meals and eating their children’s leftovers instead. This is despite the families saying they have received cost-of-living payments, warm home discount and cold winter payments.
One emerging issue is about families who cannot provide a bed for their children to sleep in, or have been unable to afford to replace beds that are broken, or bedding to keep children warm.
A Barnardo’s Scotland project worker in Inverclyde said: “Children of different ages and genders can be sharing a bedroom – that’s not uncommon. Often, you’ll find that parents will give up their bedrooms, and that they’re sleeping on the couch for a number of months – maybe even a few years – to ensure that their children have their own bedrooms.”
Barnardo’s Scotland Director Martin Crewe said: “Across the country, Barnardo’s Scotland is supporting children who are slipping into poverty as a result of the cost-of-living crisis. Families who once had to choose between heating or eating are now worried about providing warm beds for their children or losing their homes altogether.
“As a charity, we have responded by delivering clothes, appliances and vouchers to help thousands of families with everyday essentials. But we know this urgent support can only do so much. Children and young people were hit hard during the pandemic and many are now missing out on the basics.”
Barnardo’s is calling on the Scottish Government to:
- Ensure sufficient resources are allocated to fully fund the statutory child poverty delivery plan and meet child poverty targets.
- Deliver on its commitment to provide free school meals for primary school children by immediately extending provision to all P6 and 7 pupils and at the very least immediately extend eligibility to secondary school pupils where a parent or guardian is in receipt of universal credit or equivalent benefit.
- Embed key issues affecting children in the Scottish Government’s mental health and wellbeing strategy.
- Uprate the Scottish Child Payment to ensure it rises in line with inflation.
And, among other things, Barnardo’s is calling on the UK Government to:
- Strengthen social security. This should include a review of Universal Credit to ensure it is linked permanently to inflation and that the reduced payment level for under-25s is removed; reintroducing the £20 Universal Credit uplift; reversing the two-child limit on benefits and reversing the benefit cap.