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Glasgow Live
Glasgow Live
Catherine Hunter

West Dunbartonshire Council promises to help children living in poverty through holiday

West Dunbartonshire Council bosses have vowed to work with local headteachers to ensure that funding resources are distributed appropriately to help children living in poverty.

Available funding will also help improve learning opportunities for children and young people after concerns were raised about the lack of cash from the Scottish Government to fund the holiday hunger programme.

It comes after the local authority committed £100,000 to support SHINE (School Holidays Involve Nurture & Engage) Holiday projects again this year which was established in 2019 to address holiday hunger in West Dunbartonshire communities and works with local organisations and groups to increase provision of free social activities for school children over holiday periods including breakfast and lunch clubs.

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The issue was discussed at a recent education committee meeting. Deputy leader of the council, councillor Michelle McGinty said: “I welcome a lot of the positives in this report but obviously there are some things that really concern me.

“We need to look at the pupil equity funding which is being reduced every year for the next four years which obviously makes it harder and we haven’t had any money for the summer activity fund and I know that the council has done a lot of work putting that in place in finding funding from somewhere else to do that.

“I know that the cost of living fund put £100,000 into that expecting us to grow those activities to make sure kids in the most deprived areas are still being fed through the summer holidays.

“They [Scottish Government] are expecting councils to do more with less and I have real concerns about what that would mean for us in the future.

“What are we doing to address those gaps in funding?”

Council officers confirmed that summer holiday programmes would go ahead as promised and every child entitled to free school meals will have £12.50 a week put into their family bank account.

During a recent education committee meeting a paper was presented to members regarding the attainment of West Dunbartonshire’s children which confirmed that in 2021/22 attainment was higher than the national average at P1, P4, P7 and S3.

But concerns were raised that the amount of attainment challenge funding made available to the local authority by the Scottish Government has been dropping substantially from £2.04 million in 2021/22 to £1.7 million in 2022/23.

It is anticipated that further annual reductions of £298,000 can be expected each financial year up until 2025/26.

A council officer said: “We have for the last five years been working on a framework which has a clear objective to build capacity in school. It is a challenge as with less funding there is less resource.

“We are committed to the improvement framework that we have developed, revised and adapted to take into consideration where we are in terms of performance, what resource we have and how we can focus and redistribute that resource to where there is greatest need.

“That may be poverty related or improvement focussed related. We work very closely with our headteachers to try and improve the outcomes for our children and young people.”

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