Damning figures in a new report that reveal that even before the pandemic, the number of children living in poverty in Dumfries and Galloway rose to over 6,205 last year, “is utterly shameful”, says South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth.
The local MSP has called for action from both the UK and Scottish Governments after new research published by the End Child Poverty coalition and carried out by Loughborough University, showed that the number of children living in poverty in Dumfries and Galloway rose from 5,583 in 2014/15 to 6,205 in 2019/20- an increase of 3.4% of children from 23.3% to 26.7%.
In David Mundell’s UK Parliamentary constituency of Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale, the number rose from 3,013 to 3,334- an increase of 3.1% from 21.3% to 24.3%
In Alister Jack’s UK Parliamentary constituency of Dumfries and Galloway the number increased from 3,725 to 4.204- an increase of 3.9% from 24% to 27.9%.
Commenting on the report Colin Smyth 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 local 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.
“The report is a damning indictment of David Mundell and Alister Jack’s Tory Government. Child poverty was falling under the previous Government, but has risen ever year they have been in the post of Secretary of State for Scotland.
“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 the plan to double the Scottish Child Payment from £10 to £20 a week which 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.”