Figures on poverty a source of ‘shame’

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AROUND £200,000 is to be spent across Levenmouth this year in a bid to help haul it out of the poverty mire.

Following on from a report released last week, which showed that parts of the community are among the most impoverished in Fife, plans are already being drawn up to help relieve the financial pressure on families.

Official figures from the End Child Poverty in Scotland organisation showed that 40 per cent of families with young children in Methil, Buckhaven and the Wemyss villages are considered to be below the bread line – the highest percentage in Fife.

The statistic sits at 22 per cent in Leven, Kennoway and Largo and is more in line with the Fife average.

The study classes children as living in poverty if they live in families receiving out-of-work benefits or in-work tax credits where reported income is 60 per cent of the average national income before housing costs are taken into account.

Speaking to the Mail this week, John Dickie, the head of the Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland, said: “These levels of child poverty should be a source of shame to us all and must act as a wake up call to politicians at every level of government.

“The UK Government needs to rethink the drastic cuts to benefits and tax credits that are slashing the incomes of hard-up families in Methil and across Fife and must boost investment in the new universal credit.”

Recognising Levenmouth’s position as one of the most deprived in the Kingdom, Fife Council’s housing and communities committee this week pressed through a promise of £200,000 from the Fairer Scotland Fund.

The cash will be allocated to tackling inequalities over the coming year.

A report presented to councillors conceded that it has been recognised that an overall vision for areas such as Levenmouth “had not been clearly set out” and that time should now be spent on developing local community planning approaches.

Area councillor Alistair Hunter, told the Mail: “We don’t fix people or communities, people and communities do that themselves within the context and infrastructure we set.

“The evidence is clear, individuals, families and communities have better outcomes when they are respected, supported and worked with.”

Area MSPs Tricia Marwick and David Torrance, told the Mail that the Government needed to do more to combat child poverty, with Mrs Marwick describing the statistics as “unacceptable”.

Mr Torrance added: “Every child in Scotland deserves the best possible start in life.”

The area’s MP, Lindsay Roy, said it was a “shocking indictment” that in 21st century Britain there are communities where four out of every 10 youngsters are living like this.

He said: “That’s the sort of poverty you expected in Victorian times.”