Shock report reveals West Dunbartonshire poverty levels

ONE in seven children in West Dunbartonshire is living in severe poverty – the second highest proportion in the country.

The shock statistic was revealed last week following research by charity Save the Children.

Glasgow had Scotland’s highest proportion of youngsters in severe poverty at 18 per cent, followed by West Dunbartonshire, North Ayrshire and Clackmannanshire at 14 per cent. The Scottish average is nine per cent.

The charity has raised fears that the figures will rise “dramatically” due to soaring unemployment.

In West Dunbartonshire there are more than 36 people chasing every job.

Douglas Hamilton, Save the Children’s head of Scotland, said: “Urgent action is required in Scotland’s most deprived areas or we will end up with a lost generation.

“Some of these children will grow up living in households with no working adults – they have never seen a parent or grandparent work and this becomes the norm. People don’t see a route out of poverty or this cycle of worklessness and the Government needs to give them hope.”

But West Dunbartonshire Council and the area’s community planning partnership insist they are already addressing the issue and its approach is beginning to yield results.

Peter Barry, manager of community planning and policy, said: “There is a deeply ingrained generational issue in West Dunbartonshire around financial poverty which we as a council and a community planning partnership are deeply committed to tackling.

“We want to give every child the chance to take themselves and their families out of poverty now and in the future.

“Support to pupils and families, which is as partnership of social work, education and health, provides wraparound services and intensive support and is having a real impact.

“Results for the lowest performing high school children are up by 13 per cent, exclusions from primary and secondary schools down by 29 per cent, over the last five years the numbers of excluded children down by 48 per cent and the overall percentage of school leavers entering positive destinations is up 5.1 per cent to 88.1 per cent.

“The real change will only be felt when these young people become citizens of the future in West Dunbartonshire and are better educated, better equipped for work and more aspirational.”

He added: “We are also offering welfsare rights and money advice. Last year our staff through a Financial inclusion Partnership with the Citizens Aviuce Bureau and Clydebank’s Independent Resource Centre generated an additional £12.2 million in benefits for residents

“Despite these encouraging figures, the council and its CPP partners want to do everything possible to challenge the insidious impact of poverty on children and families.

“Current services are producing real and positive results. but we will go further to align and reorganise our services so they are strategic and effective and have a clear sustainable impact in improving the lives of our citizens.”