A new report has shed light on the levels of child poverty in North Lanarkshire.
The report, drawn up as North Lanarkshire Council continues to work towards Scottish Government targets to combat child poverty, shows the area has more children affected by poverty than the Scottish average of one in four children.
In all of the council wards, only Strathkelvin and Cumbernauld North are below the average.
Despite its status as the most affluent part of North Lanarkshire, twelve per cent of children living in Cumbernauld North are in poverty.
Airdrie Central was identified as the worst area with one in three children affected by poverty while Cumbernauld South not far behind.
A household is described as being in poverty when its income is less than 60 per cent of the average.
The report, which was approved by the council’s policy and strategy committee, states: “Within North Lanarkshire there are still unacceptably high levels of deprivation and child poverty and clear areas of inequity and inequality, as a result there is a degree of social exclusion across our diverse towns and communities.
“Historically the local authority has experienced higher than average levels of deprivation.”
In order to combat child poverty, the council and partners such as NHS Lanarkshire have launched a number of initiatives, all coordinated under the guidelines of a document called The Plan for North Lanarkshire.
As the report states: “It is clear that not all of North Lanarkshir’s people share equally in the improving picture and the plan sets out a vision of inclusive growth and prosperity with a shared ambition that aims to ensure the benefits reach all of our communities and there is a fairer distribution of wealth.
“North Lanarkshire will be a place where everyone is given equality of opportunity, where individuals are supported, encouraged and cared for at each stage of their life.”
Work done under this plan includes an employability plan. Between April 2016 and December 2018 more than 6500 people were given support, with over 3000 successfully entering employment – 690 of those were parents of children under 18.
Another programme with Scottish Government funding also helped nine of ten lone parents who had been unemployed for up to two years to find work.
It Pays to Switch is a collective switching campaign which helps residents switch energy suppliers, thereby reducing living costs. Six such campaigns took place between 2015 and 2017, with participants saving up to £400. A revised version of the scheme is intended to launch by early 2020.
Club 365 is another programme, intended to assist parents outside school term time by providing eligible children with free meals and activities.
Council staff are also involved in income maximization, by helping people ensure they are receiving all benefits they are due and also representing then at Social Security Appeal tribunals.
Since 2012 more than 130,000 benefits checks have been carried out and representation provided at more than 12,000 tribunals.
Neil McGrory - Local Democracy Reporting Service