Rising level of child poverty is "utterly shameful”

The number of children living in poverty in Dumfries and Galloway has been described as “utterly shameful” by South Scotland list MSP Colin Smyth.

Monday, 24th May 2021, 4:58 pm
More than a quarter of children in Dumfries and Galloway are living in poverty (picture posed by model -GettyImages)

New research published by the End Child Poverty coalition and carried out by Loughborough University, shows the number of children living in poverty in the region rose from 5,583 in 2014/15 to 6,205 in 2019/20 - an increase of 3.4 per cent from 23.3 per cent to 26.7 per cent.

Dumfries and Galloway had the third highest percentage rise of Scotland’s 32 local authorities, behind only Glasgow City and Renfrewshire.

Mr Smyth has called for action from both the UK and Scottish Governments, fearing that due to the pandemic the situation may be even worse now.

He said: “The rise in child poverty across Dumfries and Galloway is utterly shameful.

"Often the extent of poverty can be hidden in rural areas and too many people like to portray the region as one of idyllic living.

"But this report exposes the growing scandal of poverty too many families’ face.

"We need to open our eyes to the reality that many children in our region are going to bed hungry at night and that was before the economic impact of the pandemic.

“As we begin to move out of the pandemic, we need both the UK and Scottish Governments to wake up to this scandal and put in place a proper recovery plan that includes action to tackle child poverty.

"The Scottish Government could start by getting on with doubling the Scottish Child Payment from £10 to £20 a week which both the SNP and Labour pledged in our election manifestos.

"The UK Government should also put on hold their planned cuts to Universal Credit, which would see families lose out on £1000 a year.

“These figures are appalling but given that they are based largely on data that doesn’t cover the full impact of the pandemic, they are likely to be a massive underestimate of the full level of child poverty our region faces.”

John Dickie, director of the Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland, added: ““The figures speak for themselves – the situation for children couldn’t be starker.

"We all want to live in a society where children are supported to be the best they can be, but the reality is very different for too many.”