‘20% of homes’ affected by child poverty

More than one in five households in central Helensburgh – seen as one of the wealthiest towns in Scotland – suffer from child poverty, a new report has revealed.

The Campaign to end Child Poverty has produced a map of the UK, breaking down figures into parliamentary constituency, council and ward areas.

London scores badly – with 14 of the highest rate local authorities, including Bethnal Green and Bow which has a child poverty rate of 49%.

In Scotland, Shetland has the best figure – 10% – while Glasgow is worst, with one in three children living in poverty.

Clackmannanshire, Dundee, East Ayrshire, Inverclyde and North Ayrshire all have figures of close to 25%, while the average for Argyll and Bute is 19.24%.

Of the council’s wards, Oban North and Lorn has the best figure – 14.38% while the Isle of Bute is worst, with 26.5%.

The Helensburgh Central wards figure is 21.8%, while Lomond North – which includes the Rosneath Peninsula, Arrochar, Tarbet, Luss, Garelochhead and Shandon – has a figure of 17.7% and Helensburgh and Lomond South, which includes Cardross, has a figure of 14.64%.

The charity which produced the report said that in better –off areas housing costs had a big impact.

“These figures reveal just how widely and deeply child poverty reaches into our communities, even those areas generally regarded as well off,” said David Holmes, chair of End Child Poverty.

“Poverty ruins childhoods and reduces life chances. Failing to invest properly in children is a false economy: already child poverty costs the country £29bn each year and in the long run taxpayers will foot an even higher bill for correcting the damage.”

Argyll and Bute Council issued a lengthy statement in response to the report:

Child poverty is one of the most significant and long-lasting problems which affect young people in terms of future life chances.

Argyll and Bute Council and its community planning partners are aware of the difficult financial environment families are facing and we are working to tackle disadvantage through development of services.

This is an important issue nationally as well as in Argyll and Bute, and we are committed to doing what we can to support families in terms of advice about benefits and training and employment opportunities.

Our welfare and benefits team offer advice to ensure that people who are living on benefits know about everything they may be entitled to. Many chargeable council services are free to people on lower incomes – free school meals for example.

Our economic development team do a lot of work aimed at improving and increasing employment opportunities across Argyll and Bute, providing greater chances of obtaining work to help families escape the lower income trap.

There are other more specific areas where we work with children and young people – for example looked after children and children in care – to ensure that they are able to achieve the best possible outcomes.

If you are on a low income and are experiencing financial problems or suffering from financial hardship, Argyll and Bute Council can help in a number of ways: the council’s welfare rights service can advise on benefits and can be contacted on 01546 605517; for help managing debt problems contact the money advice team on 01546 604176 or 01546 604326.