Almost 7,000 children in Renfrewshire are living in poverty, a damning new report has revealed.
Of the 6,997, more than 1,200 have been plunged into poverty in the past five years, marking one of the biggest increases in deprivation in Scotland.
Campaigners say the new data shows the situation for local children “couldn’t be starker”.
The report, released by End Child Poverty Coalition, shows the number of youngsters living in poverty jumped by 3.8 per cent between 2015 and 2020 – before the pandemic devastated family incomes.
It means that apart from Glasgow , child poverty is growing faster in Renfrewshire than any other local authority.
As of March 2020, 23.1 per cent, almost one in four youngsters in the local authority area, were living in poverty after household costs had been taken into account.
Elizabeth Alexander, manager of Renfrewshire Foodbank, told the Express: “What we find is that if people are not working and are on benefits they simply do not have enough to cover the basic cost of living and that’s universal, whether they have children or not.
“And from research conducted by the Trussell Trust we can identify that single parent households are amongst the highest number of people seeking help.”
She added: “What we have also found since the pandemic is that people have the added expense of having children at home much more.
“Parents are having to provide more meals and snacks and with the added cost of using more gas and electricity because everyone is at home, that’s definitely having an added impact too.”
The data compiled by Loughborough University shows that child poverty has increased in every local authority in Scotland.
The most recent statistics include data for the 2019/2020 financial year meaning the situation will have worsened for many families whose budgets have been hammered by the Covid-19 pandemic.
John Dickie, director of the Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland, said he wanted to see both the UK and Scottish Governments increase financial support for struggling families.
He said: “The figures speak for themselves – the situation for children couldn’t be starker.
“We all want to live in a society where children are supported to be the best they can be, but the reality is very different for too many.”
He added: “After the year we’ve all had, they owe it to our children to come up with a plan to tackle child poverty that includes a boost to children’s benefits.”
The End Child Poverty Coalition has also called on councils to use local powers over economic development, housing and welfare to ensure all families have a disposable income fit for giving children a decent start in life.
Renfrewshire Council was unable to comment at the time of going to press.
West of Scotland MSP Ross Greer however says many more policies to support children from low income families will be rolled out soon.
A pandemic relief payment of £130 will be issued to low income families next month while a further £100 will be paid to families who qualify for free school meals in August and December.
The Green MSP said: “All parties agreed that tackling child poverty was a priority during the election.
“Now we need to deliver on that priority, as quickly as possible.”