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UNACCEPTABLE; WORRYING New poverty figures are shameful.

Niki Tennant More than a quarter of children in the Wishaw, Motherwell and Shotts areas are living in poverty, according to shocking new figures.

And the shameful findings of a monitoring group's report have been branded "nothing short of a disgrace" and "a damning indictment on a place as rich as the United Kingdom."

The End Child Poverty coalition has revealed that an alarming 5138 children in the Motherwell and Wishaw constituency are growing up below the breadline after housing costs - that's 26.32 per cent.

In Airdrie and Shotts, that figure is 5091, or 27.54 per cent of the area's children.

A child is said to live in poverty if they are in a family living on less than 60 per cent of the average household income - that's around PS248 a week.

And this, warns the coalition, can have lifelong consequences for one in four of North Lanarkshire's children.

In the Wishaw ward, 1032 children are living in poverty after housing costs - that's 27.22 per cent.

In Murdostoun, 1068 children are living below the breadline - that's 26.47 per cent.

The picture is also bleak in the Motherwell South East and Ravenscraig ward, where 1044 children are blighted by poverty - 27.48 per cent.

In Motherwell North, the figure is 1035 children (24.73 per cent) and in neighbouring Motherwell West, it's 833 - 26.78 per cent of the area's children.

In Fortissat, 737 children are affected by low income living conditions - that's 26.79 per cent.

Motherwell and Wishaw MSP Clare Adamson, inset, is appalled by the local figures that paint a gloomy picture of families having to choose whether to feed their children or heat their home this winter.

"That 5138 children in Motherwell and Wishaw are estimated to be living in poverty is nothing short of a disgrace and it is no accident that these figures come after 10 years of Conservative austerity being imposed upon Scotland," she hit out.

"The Scottish Government is working hard to mitigate the impact of austerity by protecting families in Scotland from the Bedroom Tax, the Pupil Equity Fund going straight to headteachers to help fund the povertyrelated attainment gap, and the recent introduction of the Child Poverty (Scotland) Bill which will reintroduce statutory targets to tackle child poverty in Scotland."

As price rises risk pushing even more children below the poverty line, the coalition is calling on the Chancellor to end the freeze on children's benefits, which include child benefit, child tax credit and the child element of Universal Credit.

The coalition is also concerned that the impact of poverty may be exacerbated by a poverty premium, a major contributor of which is the high cost of credit for low income families. And it wants better access to interest-free credit to ensure that poverty doesn't result in spiraling debt.

Airdrie and Shotts MP Neil Gray said the revelation that one in four children in his constituency are living in poverty is a damning indictment on wealthy Britain.

"The freezing and lowering of important working-age benefits, coupled with the worst wage growth in many decades and spiralling household costs, has created a perfect storm for families," he said.

Commenting on the figures, a spokesperson for North Lanarkshire Council said tackling child poverty is a key priority for the council and all its partners, who are dedicated to reducing the number of children living in poverty.

She said: "Child poverty is a national issue and is identified as a key priority in North Lanarkshire Partnership's new Local Outcome Improvement Plan and our Children's Services Plan, both of which are designed to support all children and young people to achieve their potential.

"Our partnership approach reflects the fact that poverty is not only a financial issue, but affects all aspects of a child's life.

"Our aim is to address child poverty now to help build a brighter future for this and future generations in North Lanarkshire."

The council said it is driving the fight against child poverty by providing free sanitary products in secondary schools and supporting families who are applying for benefits and services.

Scottish charity Children 1st, which is a part of the End Child Poverty coalition, says the shocking figures bring into sharp focus the reality of life for too many children living in Scotland.
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Publication:Wishaw Press (Lanarkshire, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Feb 7, 2018
Words:718
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