A Director of Public Health report has confirmed the stark reality that one in four children in Glenrothes are living in poverty.
The annual report given to the town’s Area Committee highlighted that 24.4 per cent of children under 16 are living in families who are in receipt of child tax credit with an income of less than 60 per cent of the average yearly wage, or are in receipt of income support or job seekers allowance.
With the worrying statistic significantly higher than the Fife average of one in five children, Glenrothes councillors were in unison over the need to do more to tackle the issues affecting children and families suffering.
And with the report’s findings being based on figures from 2011 - the most up to date available - the concern is that the figures could rise dramatically due to the issues relating to welfare reform legislation.
The figures are further supported by the fact that 24.1 per cent of children rely on free school meals, again more than the Fife average of 19.9 per cent.
Dr. Eddie Cole, director of public health for NHS Fife told councillors: “Those of working age in receipt of income related benefits and those of all ages living in households receiving low income support are also higher than the Fife averages help us to put into context the child poverty statistics.”
Average educational attainment for S4 pupils in Glenrothes was also lower than the Fife average.
The wide ranging report, covering everything from teenage pregnancy to life expectancy, made sobering reading for councillors.
“We must do more to to help children”
Glenrothes councillors were unified in their need to do as much as possible to help reduce the child poverty figures in the region.
Altany Craik said: ‘We know that the start in life that a child gets has a huge bearing on their life chances and too many of our kids are being born into difficult situation.
“That is why we will be focussing on early years and projects that will help not only children but the whole family.
“Dr Coyle highlighted repeatedly that poverty was a main determinant of life expectency and quality of life.
“This year we have extra one-off money and we will focus that on our local priorities one of which is reducing health inequalities.”
John Beare told the Gazette: “It makes us all sit up, take notice and re-evaluate what it is we can do locally and nationally to ensure that all of our children, no matter what their backgrounds, have the best start in life.
“The introduction of free school meals, by the Scottish Government, for P1 to P3 from next January, is a welcome step in the right direction, we all know that well fed pupils are better able to learn.”