5000 WEST DUNBARTONSHIRE CHILDREN LIVE IN POVERTY

 SPECIAL REPORT on poverty and deprivation by Bill Heaney, top left, who was brought up in Brucehill, one of West Dunbartonshire’s most deprived areas.

Nearly 5,000 children in West Dunbartonshire are living in poverty and a similar number of poor people are regularly running out of cash and receiving advice on how to handle their money.

The area has higher than average concentrations of deprivation and approximately 35,000 (37 per cent) of the resident population have first-hand experience of poverty and live in neighbourhoods considered to have the highest levels of multiple deprivation in Scotland.

According to the End Child Poverty group, the figures for poor children represent 26.7 per cent of the young population; a proportion that is substantially higher than the Scottish average of 20 per cent.

West Dunbartonshire is affected by high levels of multiple deprivation, and more than 30,000 people are living in these communities, 12,900 of them children.

pETER bARRY
Peter Barry of West Dunbartonshire Council.

These shocking figures are revealed in a report just out, authored by housing and social work director, Peter Barry of West Dunbartonshire Council in co-operation with the Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board, whose chairman and chief executive are John Brown and Jane Grant.

The Child Poverty (Scotland) Act 2017 was passed by the Parliament in November, 2017, and received Royal Assent the following month.

The intention of this legislation is to set targets relating to the eradication of child poverty, as well as making provision for plans and reporting relating to achievement of these targets.

It requires the Scottish Government to meet four income based child poverty targets by 2030 as well as set out and report on the actions they will take to meet those targets.

In addition, the Act places a duty on local authorities and health boards to report annually on what they are doing to contribute to reducing child poverty.

The local child poverty action report must set out a range of commitments to address the key drivers of poverty:

  • Increasing income through employment;
  • Maximise income from the social security system; and
  • Reducing household costs.

This is West Dunbartonshire Council and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board’s first annual report on this subject.

The Act provides definitions of relative, absolute and persistent poverty and combined low income and material deprivation.

It also provides guidance on the method for calculating household income, which includes the need to consider levels of poverty after housing costs have been taken into account.

Children move in and out of the categories, but persistent poverty is suffered by children that have lived in absolute poverty for at least years.

It is clear that poverty, including family poverty, is the result of direct drivers of poverty, which fall into three main categories – income from employment, costs of living, and income from social security.

More pointedly, poverty is caused by the fact that income from employment and or social security is not sufficient to meet the essential living costs.

The aim of this project is to build resilience within families in order to assist them to address the drivers of poverty and improve their quality of life.

The departments to whom the job of ameliorating or eradicating poverty have been asked to concentrate on supporting:

  • Expectant mothers
  • Households with children whose income or expenditure is adversely affected because there is a member of the family has one or more protected characteristic
  • Lone Parents
  • Families with three or more children
  • Families where the youngest child is under one-year-old
  • Mothers aged less than 25 years

At a local level, Community Planning West Dunbartonshire has emphasised the need to include:

  • Families and children with experience of the care system; and
  • Children with care responsibilities; Income from Employment
  • Those living in areas of high material deprivation.

Poverty has wide ranging impacts on children’s development, health and prospects, according to the report.

It is the cause of poor cognitive, physical and behavioural development, a risk factor for the need for local authority care, poor mental health and poor educational attainment and is strongly associated with risk of death in childhood.

Dealing with the consequences of poverty is costly. It is now estimated that 20 per cent of money spent in the public sector is spent dealing with the consequences of poverty.

Poverty (and income inequalities more broadly) are resulting in a loss of human potential.

While the impact of poverty is specific to each individual, the new initiative will gather a range of information from people using benefit maximisation, debt management and employability services.

Currently this amounts to almost 5,000 people each year.

This will, according to the report, allow the group to gain a greater understanding of the lived experience of those in poverty and they will complement this with further information from third sector partners in order to improve awareness, develop new approaches and make good decisions about the future use of resources.

West Dunbartonshire Council and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board must now, as soon as reasonably practicable, after the end of each reporting year, jointly prepare and publish a report (a local child poverty action report).

The report must describe measures taken during the reporting year that will meet the child poverty targets. The report will also outline information on measures that they plan to take to contribute to the meeting of the

Child Poverty Reduction Bill. The aim is to ensure the report provides a strategic forward look as well as an account of progress to date.

Staff from Working 4U will take the lead on behalf of West Dunbartonshire Council in developing and managing the component parts of the Child Poverty (Scotland) Act 2017 in West Dunbartonshire.

Working 4U is an integrated West Dunbartonshire Council service set within Housing and Employability Services that supports residents and communities in West Dunbartonshire to improve their skills, learning and financial situations, assisting all on their journey into work and protecting their rights.

Working 4U’s main goals centre on:

  • Supporting residents to make informed choices and enjoy improved life chances through the provision of credible benefits and debt information and guidance;
  • assisting residents to make positive and sustained contributions to their communities through the provision of access to good quality advice and learning opportunities;
  • improving the employability and resilience of residents and making a positive contribution towards increasing employment rates within our community to close the gap with Scotland.

Staff from Working 4U will work with NHS Glasgow and Clyde to develop, compile and, with the support of community planning partners, deliver the Local Child Poverty Report.

Living in West Dunbartonshire

coat of arms of WDCWest Dunbartonshire, an area of 98 square miles, is located west of Glasgow and shares borders with Argyll and Bute, East Dunbartonshire and Stirlingshire, Renfrewshire and Glasgow.

West Dunbartonshire includes the towns of Clydebank, Dumbarton and Alexandria and has a population estimate of 91,000 residents.

The area is described in the report as consisting of a lively business community that stretches along the banks of the Clyde to the shores of Loch Lomond.

West Dunbartonshire has a rich past that is shaped by its world-famous shipyards, and boasts many attractions, ranging from the beauty of Dumbarton Rock to historic whisky warehouses.

As such, the area is not only one of great diversity and natural beauty, it is also well connected.

Just half an hour from the heart of Glasgow, with its opportunities for employment and business development and learning within universities and colleges. West Dunbartonshire is also conveniently located to Glasgow airport and Paisley.

The local authority area consists of 121 of Scotland’s 6,978 Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation data zones and 17 Community Council areas. These are set within six ‘multi-member’ wards, including:

  1. Lomond;
  2. Leven;
  3. Dumbarton;
  4. Kilpatrick;
  5. Clydebank Central;
  6. Clydebank Waterfront.

There are approximately 43,600 economically active people in West Dunbartonshire; this is 75.4% of the working age population.

In 2017, there were 15,790 children aged 0-15 years resident in West Dunbartonshire; 17.6% of the population. This is higher than the average for Scotland where 0-15 year olds make up 16.9% of the population.

In 2018 there were:

  • 7,157 pupils in the 32 primary schools in West Dunbartonshire.
  • 5,155 pupils in the five secondary schools in West Dunbartonshire.
  • 193 pupils in the three special need schools in West Dunbartonshire.

Despite its strengths, West Dunbartonshire is one of the areas in Scotland most affected by post-industrial decline. Its three town centres, Alexandria, Clydebank

and Dumbarton have experienced steady decline in their comparative economic performance with some areas affected by wide ranging deep rooted poverty and deprivation.

As a result, West Dunbartonshire has higher than average concentrations of comparative deprivation and approximately 35,000 (37%) of the resident population have first-hand experience of and live in neighbourhoods considered to have the highest levels of multiple deprivation in Scotland.

In July 2017, there were: 363 children looked after in West Dunbartonshire. This represents a rate of 1.94% of the 0-17 year olds compared to a figure of 1.4% for Scotland.

Of all looked after children:

  • 82 are at home with parents;
  • 166 with friends/relatives;
  • 78 with foster carers or other community placements; and
  • 37 looked after in other residential care settings.

No less than 71 children had their names placed on the West Dunbartonshire Child Protection register during 2015/16, with 48 remaining on the register in July 2016.

According to ‘End Child Poverty’4 group there are 4,887 children in West Dunbartonshire living in poverty. This is 26.7% of the young population. As such, there are considerable challenges to address.

The Poverty Challenges in West Dunbartonshire:

The Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) identifies small area concentrations of multiple deprivation across all of Scotland in a consistent way. It allows for comparative analysis and effective targeting of policies and funding where the aim is to wholly or partly tackle or take account of area concentrations of multiple deprivation. SIMD ranks small areas (called data zones) from most deprived (ranked 1) to least deprived (ranked 6,976). People using SIMD will often focus on the data zones below a certain rank, for example, the 5%, 10%, 15% or 20% most deprived data zones in Scotland.

West Dunbartonshire consists of 121 data zones. 48 (40%) of West Dunbartonshire’s 121 data zones are within the 20% most deprived in Scotland. In effect, West Dunbartonshire has higher than average concentrations of comparative deprivation with each of the three main settlement areas: Clydebank, Dumbarton and the Vale of Leven having clusters within the 20% most deprived.

  • All areas in West Dunbartonshire have datazones in the worst 20%;
  • In West Dunbartonshire there are 35,085 people living in the 20% most deprived areas, this is almost 40% of the population;
  • Of those in deprived neighbourhoods, 22,510 are of working age and almost 15,000 people of non-working age, of these almost 5,000 are children;
  • Clydebank Waterfront has the highest number of people living in the 20% most deprived category.

Child Poverty in West Dunbartonshire

  1. There are approximately 15,700 children living in West Dunbartonshire; nearly 5,000 are living in poverty.
  2. 25% of children in West Dunbartonshire live in combined low income and material deprivation. This is higher than the Scottish average (20%) and places it

as 6th worst of 32 local authorities in Scotland.

  1. Every multi-member ward in West Dunbartonshire is affected by high levels of multiple deprivation, 35,000 people in West Dunbartonshire are living in communities experiencing high levels of comparative deprivation, 12,900 of these residents are children.

Implications for those planning to address child poverty…

West Dunbartonshire has a high prevalence of multiple deprivation, with all areas experiencing some level; 40% of datazones are in the most deprived 20%.

This not only suggests that action should be taken, it also suggest that the action should have a West Dunbartonshire wide focus and all aspects of deprivation should be addressed. It will require ‘an authority wide approach with aligned input from partners’.

  1. Child poverty in West Dunbartonshire has risen from 26% in 2016/17 to 33% in 2018/19; estimates suggest a further rise of 3% as a result of welfare reform.
  2. Children in lone parent families are at a higher risk of being in poverty. There are 4,128 children living in lone parent families in West Dunbartonshire;
  3. The heads of 50% of lone parent families are not in employment and therefore even more vulnerable to relative, absolute and persistent poverty.
  4. In 2017 there were 426 children looked after by the local authority in West Dunbartonshire. This represents a rate of 24.1 per 1,000 of the population compared to a figure of 14.4 per 1,000 in Scotland.

Implications for those planning to address child poverty…

It is anticipated that child poverty will increase and it is likely to affect particularly vulnerable groups. While the emphasis will be placed on supporting those identified as most vulnerable:

(Expectant mothers; Households with children whose income or expenditure is adversely affected because there is a member of the family has one or more protected characteristic, as set out in the ‘Equality Act 2010’; Families with three or more children; Families where the youngest child is under one-year-old; Mothers aged under 25 years, Lone Parents).

Circumstances in West Dunbartonshire suggest that emphasis should also be placed on supporting:

  • Families and children with experience of the care system; and
  • Children with care responsibilities; and
  • Those living in areas of high material deprivation.

Effort has to be focussed on target groups and those most vulnerable to ensure ‘no one is left behind’.

The percentage of children living in poverty in Scotland (July- Sept 2017) is approximately 13.3% (before housing) and 21.6% (after housing). The comparable figures for West Dunbartonshire and its wards at that time were…

There are 6,800 workless households in West Dunbartonshire, this represents a figure of 22.8% and is higher than the Scottish average of 14.5%, unemployment at 2.1% is almost double the UK average of 1.1%.

Implications for those planning to address child poverty…

The incidence of material deprivation and level of unemployment strongly suggest there is a requirement to ensure there is access to relevant advice and information services and employability services in West Dunbartonshire. These services should ensure that anyone who wants to improve their life circumstances, wellbeing, independence and resilience and therefore address child poverty is able to obtain the information, advice they need, when they need it and in the way they need it’.

There’s a need to ‘maximise income through work and benefits and reduce costs’.

However, there’s only one job for every two people of working age in West Dunbartonshire;

There are 2,335 children registered to receive a free meal in West Dunbartonshire

Being in work does not always insulate people from the effect of poverty- more than half the people living in poverty in the UK are also in work, 17.8% of the

Working population in West Dunbartonshire is considered to be income deprived – the Scottish average is 12.2%.

At £550, gross weekly wages for men in West Dunbartonshire are £30 lower than the Scottish average, this figure of £550 is approximately equivalent to the mean annual salary in the UK (£27,600).

Women in West Dunbartonshire have a gross average weekly wage of £441. Children in families affected by poverty are, by definition, living in households with a maximum gross weekly income of £331.

Implications for those planning to address child poverty…

Emphasis should be placed on maximising access to opportunities available as a direct result of public sector investment in services and the local economy. This would include, for example, encouraging a living wage economy, capitalising on community benefits from procurement activities and providing access to apprenticeship opportunities within and beyond public sector organisations.

Promoting the Fairer Scotland Duty placed on public authorities to achieve ‘inclusive growth’.

Health Board Child Poverty Leads Network.  Local Partners – West Dunbartonshire Community Planning

In order to address poverty and disadvantage West Dunbartonshire’s Community Planning Management Group has adopted five key outcomes for the partnership that reflect the requirements of the Scottish Government ‘Fairer Scotland Action Plan’ (2016).

The Fairer Scotland Action Plan is built on five high-level ambitions and outlines 50 actions to help tackle poverty, reduce inequality and build a fairer and more inclusive Scotland. These priorities are now the focus for partnership activity and investment in West Dunbartonshire.

A Flourishing West Dunbartonshire

  • Our economy is diverse and dynamic creating opportunities for everyone.
  • Our local communities are sustainable and attractive.
  • Increased and better quality learning and employment opportunities.
  • Enhanced quality and availability of affordable housing options.

An Independent West Dunbartonshire

  • Adults and older people are able to live independently in the community.
  • Quality of life is improved for our older residents.
  • Housing options are responsive to changing needs over time.

A Nurtured West Dunbartonshire

  • All West Dunbartonshire children have the best start in life and are ready to succeed.
  • Families are supported in accessing education, learning and attainment opportunities.
  • Improved life chances for all children, young people and families.

An Empowered West Dunbartonshire

  • We live in engaged and cohesive communities.
  • Citizens are confident, resilient and responsible.
  • Carers are supported to address their needs.

A Safe West Dunbartonshire

  • Improved community justice outcomes ensure West Dunbartonshire is a safe and inclusive place to live.
  • All partners deliver early and effective interventions targeted at reducing the impact of domestic abuse.
  • Residents live in positive, health promoting local environments where the impact of alcohol and drugs is addressed.
  • Our residents are supported to improve their emotional and mental health and well-being.

Each priority is supported by a suite of outcomes that are the focus of activity in thematic Delivery and Improvement Groups that will be measured through performance and improvement monitoring framework.

It is anticipated that all national and local policy and partner strategies and plans will be aligned to the vision and aspirations set out in the West Dunbartonshire Local Outcome Improvement Plan: Plan for Place’.

One comment

  1. Capitalism is the cause of poverty and inequality in our Society. Poverty is man-made and can be eradicated by a redistribution of wealth & power in favour of the working class.

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