The number of children living in poverty has increased in West Dunbartonshire, according to grim new statistics.
Figures published last week by the End Child Poverty coalition, revealed that 27.6 percent of young people were living under the bread line - the fourth highest in Scotland – in 2021/22.
According to the organisation, this equates to 4696 children living in poverty across the area.
Last year’s figure was 23.4 per cent, with the highest it’s been over the last six years sitting at 26.9 percent in 2017/18.
The region is above the national average of 24 percent, and well above the levels set out in the Child Poverty Act 2017, which sets mandatory targets of reducing the level to 18 percent by next year and 10 percent by 2030.
It comes as Clair Coyle. of West Dunbartonshire Community Foodshare, said efforts to reduce child poverty, including the Scottish Child Payment, are having no effect in the wake of sky-high inflation.
The benefit was extended to include all eligible children until their 16th birthday and increased to £25 per child per week in November last year.
She told the Lennox: “It’s a big concern with the kids about to break up for the summer holidays.
“It’s going to be a long seven weeks for families who are already struggling.
“They are now going to have to find that extra money for more food in the house.
“There will be a lot of parents who will be really, really worried about the holidays coming up.
“The figures don’t surprise us at all.
“We thought that the introduction of the Scottish Child Payment last year may have improved things.
“But it’s been wiped out because the cost of everything has risen so quickly.
“That extra money that families are getting is just covering the extra costs.
“It’s not making families or households better off at all.”
Support is on offer from WDCF, with Clair urging those in need to reach out to the charity - even if they don’t think they qualify for help.
She continued: “We’re still delivering five days a week and households who are in need can phone us on 01389 764135.
“We will also be running our school holiday brunch bag programme over the summer, which will give people enough for breakfast and lunch during the week, as well as a few snacks.
“We’re also putting suncream in with the bags, and hopefully the good weather continues so families will be able to use that.
“Any families who are struggling can get in touch with us over the phone and we can arrange that delivery.
“The uniform bank will run throughout the summer.
“Some families will receive the uniform grant, but we’re finding that more working families are getting in touch with us.
“Child poverty is now a really big issue for working families.
“Last summer we saw a big increase in working families who just miss the threshold to qualify for the school uniform grant.
“They qualify for help from us.”
She believes putting money into people’s pockets is the only way to halt poverty rates rising further.
She added: “People just need more money in their pocket.
“The cost of everything; food, gas and electricity, rent and mortgages has all gone up. People physically need to have enough money to cover these increases, and they don’t have that.”
Dumbarton MSP Jackie Baillie said: “It is inexcusable that more than a quarter of children in West Dunbartonshire are living in poverty.
“These figures are stark and behind them are families who are struggling on a daily basis.
“A single person in poverty is one too many and a single day spent in poverty is a day too many – yet both the SNP and the Tories are taking insufficient action to combat this.
“Now it is imperative that both governments, who have so far failed miserably to protect people from the cost of living crisis, act fast to turn the situation around.”
MP Martin Docherty-Hughes commented: “I am clear that in a wealthy country like Scotland no child should face growing up in poverty.
“The SNP is determined to eradicate child poverty – leading the way by introducing ambitious policies like the Scottish Child Payment and expansion of free school meals.
“However, our efforts to tackle poverty in Scotland continue to be undermined by Westminster-imposed austerity.
“While the SNP takes bold action to boost family incomes, callous cuts imposed by successive UK governments continue to hit hard in communities like West Dunbartonshire.”