A damning new report into child poverty in Scotland has revealed children living in parts of Kirkcaldy are the poorest in the whole of Fife.
The shocking statistics included in a report by the End Child Poverty Coalition (ECPC) put the Kirkcaldy East ward, which includes Galatown, Smeaton and Dysart, as the highest area in the Kingdom with nearly four in every ten children in that area officially designated as living in poverty.
In all, 1075 children in the Kirkcaldy East area are having to survive below the breadline.
The figures are way above the regional average across Fife of 24.47 per cent (one in five children).
And there’s more bad news for the Lang Toun with the Kirkcaldy Central ward, which takes in Linktown, Abbotshall, Valley and Hayfield, also falling within the four worst child poverty stricken areas in Fife with 32.35 per cent (962 children) officially living in poverty in that ward.
The official poverty benchmark is defined as being in a family living on less than 60 per cent of median household income, or below £248 per week.
The news has been met with anger by children’s charities , politicians and child support organisations alike.
Dr Sam Royston, chairman of End Child Poverty (ECP)and director of Policy and Research at the Children’s Society, told the Press: “It is scandalous that a child born in some parts of the UK now has a greater chance of growing up in poverty, than being in a family above the breadline.
“There can be little doubt that the Government’s policy of maintaining the benefits freeze despite rising prices is a major contributor to the emerging child poverty crisis.
“No family in modern Britain should be struggling to put food on the table, heat their homes and clothe their children.
“End Child Poverty is calling on the Chancellor to end the freeze on children’s benefits, and to invest in interest free credit for low income families, to ensure that poverty doesn’t result in spiralling debt.”
The Campaign to End Child Poverty (ECP), made up of organisations including children’s charities, child welfare organisations, social justice groups, faith groups, trade unions and others, has publicly backed the Scottish Government’s desire to introduce a Child Poverty (Scotland) Bill, currently under consultation, aimed at reducing Scotland’s child poverty rates to 10 per cent by 2030, saying the target is both “realistic and achievable”.
“We are extremely disappointed that the UK level 2020 targets contained in the Child Poverty Act 2010 have been abandoned by the UK Government,” the ECP added.
“We accept, however, that it would be unrealistic for the Scottish Government to meet the income targets described by 2020.”
Furthermore, the ECP added that full consideration must be given by the Scottish Government as to how newly devolved social security powers could be best used to ease the pressures many on state benefits are continuing to endure.
Meanwhile, the region’s local authority has already stated its commitment to doing all possible to tackle spiraling deprivation in Fife with plans for a fairer Fife – the council’s number one objective.
Councillor Fay Sinclair, convener of Fife Council’s education and children’s services said that while the figures vary across Fife, the number of children now living in poverty in Fife communities was “ deeply concerning.”
“That’s why we’re committed to working towards a fairer Fife along with all our partner agencies,” she added.
“There’s no one quick fix to tackling poverty.
“Supporting families and children in their early years is key to opening up opportunities for everyone; helping build people’s wellbeing, confidence and ability to reach their full potential.
“This nurturing approach is one way we’re trying to break the cycle of poverty and inequality that’s affecting too many families in Fife.”
The increasing dependence on foodbanks, churches and charities to bridge the gap for those suffering the most hardship is sadly the norm, it seems these days and no more was that borne out than in the efforts of Fife Gingerbread charity over the recent festive period.
The charity said the support, given to the most vulnerable families the charity works with, managed to reach 224 children during the period.
“Fife Council just released statistics highlighting that there’s over 17,500 children living in poverty in Fife,” explained Rhona Cunningham, CEO of Fife Gingerbread, the charity which supports lone parents, vulnerable and disadvantaged families through early intervention.
“We know that child poverty is a problem that is getting out of control but to actually see a figure as high as that is staggering,” she added.
Areas of Fife with the highest levels of child poverty (after housing costs)
1,075 children 38.68%
Buckhaven, Methil & Wemyss village
1,448 children 36.62%
948 children 32.75%
962 children 32.35%
Glenrothes Central , Thornton
906 children 30.87%
Areas of Fife with the lowest levels of child poverty (after housing costs)
414 children 15.52%
Inverkeithing and Dalgety Bay
580 children 17.05%
677 children 17.24%
967 children 17.47%
244 children 18.05%