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Child poverty "shock" costs North Lanarkshire Council £170m a year

Written by Scott Campbell.
 
 
 
 
 
Published at 20:33 GMT on Friday, July 29th, 2013.

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THE cost of child poverty in North Lanarkshire is costing North Lanarkshire Council almost £170 million a year, with the costs to Scotland's largest authority – Glasgow City Council – almost £400m a year.

The statistics were announced after researchers found that Glasgow City Council’s £395m cost was the third highest in the UK, after Birmingham and Manchester.

According to the research, there are approximately 36,367 children in the Glasgow City Council area living below the poverty line, although Scottish Government statistics, last month, revealed that 710,000 Scots - including 150,000 children - were living in relative poverty between 2011 and 2012.

The Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) commissioned experts at Loughborough University to compile of report, detailing the breakdown of child poverty’s financial impact on every UK local authority.

Child poverty is anticipated to cost £29bn a year, across the United Kingdom, including the £15bn spent on services to tackle the consequences of the problem, along with £3.5bn in lost tax receipts, £2bn on benefits, and £8.5bn lost from people's earnings all as a result of people growing up in poverty.

John Dickie, head of the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland said: "It is vital that local authorities do all within their powers to protect families in their area against poverty by, for example, removing childcare barriers to work, ensuring families have access to benefits and tax credits advice, and investing in reducing the costs families face by extending free school meals and increasing school clothing grants.

"The good news is that reducing child poverty benefits everyone by cutting the costs to local authority services and boosting the local economy, but many people will be shocked to hear that so many children in every local area in Scotland are living in poverty."

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According to the research the cost of child poverty in the Edinburgh City Council area is £156m a year, in Fife the cost is estimated to be slightly higher, at £158m, with the cost in the Perth and Kinross council area £33m and, in Stirling, researchers calculated the figures to be £26m.

In both the Orkney Islands and the Shetland Islands, the cost was said to be £4m a year, according to the research, with the cost of the problem, in North Lanarkshire, estimated to be £170m, annually. 

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "This Government is doing all it can, with the powers it has, to address the social inequalities which exist in our society."

While the 2011-12 figures showed a fall in the number of children in poverty, the government spokeswoman said there was "no room for complacency", adding: "changes introduced since then through the UK Government's cuts to capital budgets and welfare reform agenda threaten to have a significant impact on Scotland's children".

The spokeswoman said the Scottish Government was "working to strengthen the economy and to secure new jobs and opportunities to our communities", adding: "We are also improving the quality and flexibility of early learning and childcare support, through the Children and Young People (Scotland) Bill.

"This will amount to savings equivalent to around £700 a year per child and the increased flexibility will remove barriers that parents and carers can face in taking up education, training and employment."

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