Statistics published by HMRC last month reveal that in the Sinclairtown area of Kirkcaldy 71% of children under the age of 16 are living in poverty in families in receipt of working and child tax credits and with less than 60 per cent of the median (middle) household income. In Gallatown West, the figure is 60%. This compares to a figure of 18% for the whole of Fife and 16% for Scotland.
The figures have been described by Kirkcaldy’s MP Lesley Laird as “utterly, utterly disgraceful.”
She said: “Published deprivation figures, which all pre-date the impact of Universal Credit, should leave no-one in any doubt about the poverty crisis facing our communities yet the government persists in its fallacy that ‘austerity is over’. “Try telling that to hundreds of parents in the Kirkcaldy area who, but for frontline charities such as the Cottage Centre or Kirkcaldy Foodbank and other local groups, wouldn’t have seen their children open a single present or eat one hot meal over the holidays.
“It’s utterly, utterly disgraceful that here in the UK – the fifth wealthiest economy in the world – chronic poverty on this scale should occur.
Amid concerns with that the roll-out of Universal Credit across Fife will make matters worse, concerns which are shared by Council co-leader David Alexander, co-leader David Ross said “Despite calls to halt Universal Credit, the UK government is hell-bent on rolling it out. Future child deprivation reports will prove just how disastrous that move was.
“Just how much worse do poverty levels have to get before governments – and society – say enough is enough?”