UN­AC­CEPT­ABLE

New poverty fig­ures are shame­ful

Wishaw Press - - FRONT PAGE - Niki Ten­nant

More than a quar­ter of chil­dren in the Wishaw, Mother­well and Shotts ar­eas are liv­ing in poverty, ac­cord­ing to shock­ing new fig­ures.

And the shame­ful find­ings of a mon­i­tor­ing group’s re­port have been branded “noth­ing short of a dis­grace” and “a damn­ing in­dict­ment on a place as rich as the United King­dom.”

The End Child Poverty coali­tion has revealed that an alarm­ing 5138 chil­dren in the Mother­well and Wishaw con­stituency are grow­ing up be­low the bread­line after hous­ing costs – that’s 26.32 per cent.

In Air­drie and Shotts, that fig­ure is 5091, or 27.54 per cent of the area’s chil­dren.

A child is said to live in poverty if they are in a fam­ily liv­ing on less than 60 per cent of the av­er­age house­hold in­come – that’s around £248 a week.

And this, warns the coali­tion, can have life­long con­se­quences for one in four of North La­nark­shire’s chil­dren.

In the Wishaw ward, 1032 chil­dren are liv­ing in poverty after hous­ing costs – that’s 27.22 per cent.

In Mur­dos­toun, 1068 chil­dren are liv­ing be­low the bread­line – that’s 26.47 per cent.

The pic­ture is also bleak in the Mother­well South East and Raven­scraig ward, where 1044 chil­dren are blighted by poverty – 27.48 per cent.

In Mother­well North, the fig­ure is 1035 chil­dren (24.73 per cent) and in neigh­bour­ing Mother­well West, it’s 833 – 26.78 per cent of the area’s chil­dren.

In For­tis­sat, 737 chil­dren are af­fected by low in­come liv­ing con­di­tions – that’s 26.79 per cent.

Mother­well and Wishaw MSP Clare Adam­son, inset, is ap­palled by the lo­cal fig­ures that paint a gloomy pic­ture of fam­i­lies hav­ing to choose whether to feed their chil­dren or heat their home this win­ter.

“That 5138 chil­dren in Mother­well and Wishaw are es­ti­mated to be liv­ing in poverty is noth­ing short of a dis­grace and it is no ac­ci­dent that these fig­ures come after 10 years of Con­ser­va­tive aus­ter­ity be­ing im­posed upon Scot­land,” she hit out.

“The Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment is work­ing hard rd to mit­i­gate te the im­pact of aus­ter­ity by y pro­tect­ing g fam­i­lies in n Scot­land from m the Bed­room m Ta x , the e Pupil Eq­uity y Fund go­ing g straight to o head­teach­ers s to help fund the pover­tyre­lated at­tain­ment g a p, and the re­cent in­tro­duc­tion of the Child Poverty (Scot­land) tland) Bill which will rein­tro­duce statu­tory tar­gets to tackle child poverty in Scot­land.”

As price rises risk push­ing even more chil­dren be­low the poverty line, the coali­tion is call­ing on the Chan­cel­lor to end the freeze on chil­dren’s ben­e­fits, which in­clude child ben­e­fit, child tax credit and the child el­e­ment of Uni­ver­sal Credit.

The coali­tion is also con­cerned that the im­pact of poverty may be ex­ac­er­bated by a poverty premium, a ma­jor con­trib­u­tor of which is the high cost of credit for low in­come fam­i­lies. And it wants bet­ter ac­cess to in­ter­est-free credit to en­sure that poverty doesn’t re­sult in spi­ral­ing debt.

Air­drie and Shotts MP Neil Gray said the rev­e­la­tion that one in four chil­dren in his con­stituency are liv­ing in poverty is a damn­ing in­dict­ment on wealthy Bri­tain.

“The freez­ing and low­er­ing of im­por­tant work­ing-age ben­e­fits, cou­pled with the worst wage growth in many decades and spi­ralling house­hold costs, has cre­ated a per­fect storm for fam­i­lies,” he said.

Com­ment­ing on the fig­ures, a spokesper­son for North La­nark­shire Coun­cil said tack­ling child poverty is a key pri­or­ity for the coun­cil and all its part­ners, who are ded­i­cated to re­duc­ing th the num­ber of ch chil­dren liv­ing in poverty.

She said: “C “Child poverty is an a na­tional is­sue an and is iden­ti­fied as a key pri­or­ity in North La La­nark­shire Par Part­ner­ship’s new Lo Lo­cal Out­come Im Im­prove­ment Pla Plan and our Ch Chil­dren’s Ser Ser­vices Plan, bot both of which are a re de­signed to sup­port all chil­dren and youn young peo­ple to achieve their po­ten­tial.

“Our part­ner­ship ap­proach re­flects the fact that poverty is not only a fi­nan­cial is­sue, but af­fects all as­pects of a child’s life.

“Our aim is to ad­dress child poverty now to help build a brighter fu­ture for this and fu­ture gen­er­a­tions in North La­nark­shire.”

The coun­cil said it is driv­ing the fight against child poverty by pro­vid­ing free san­i­tary prod­ucts in sec­ondary schools and sup­port­ing fam­i­lies who are ap­ply­ing for ben­e­fits and ser­vices.

Scot­tish char­ity Chil­dren 1st, which is a part of the End Child Poverty coali­tion, says the shock­ing fig­ures bring into sharp fo­cus the re­al­ity of life for too many chil­dren liv­ing in Scot­land.

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