West Lothian's report sets out actions taken to address child poverty and assessment of local impact as well as future planned activity.
Latest child poverty estimates from the End Child Poverty Coalition and the latest child poverty estimates Loughborough University indicates that nearly 24% of children in West Lothian were living in poverty in 2021/2022.
There are a number of possible contributory factors that may have led to sustained levels of child poverty including,:
- UK Government policy on child related benefits such as the continued two child benefit limit since April 2017.
- Increased prevalence of in-work poverty
- Children in lone parent families where the parent is in work are particularly vulnerable to the impact of the two-child benefit limit; in such families, more than half of children are estimated to be in poverty.
- The pandemic has also had some impact on low income families, potentially attributed to the effects of the removal of the Universal Credit uplift, reduced working hours or furlough due to lockdown.
Nahid Hanif, the council's Anti-Poverty Manager said: "Tackling child poverty is a shared responsibility with no one organisation being able to solve this extremely complex issue. It takes investment, understanding and a recognition that national and local government, combined with partners such as the NHS and the voluntary sector, must work together to protect people from the worst extremes of poverty, and help those experiencing poverty to escape the cycle of depravation and improve life chances. Our new report will set to reduce the number of children in relative poverty to no more than 18% by 2022/23."
Leader of West Lothian Council Lawrence Fitzpatrick said:
"Going forward the West Lothian Child Poverty Reference Group and anti-poverty networks will work closely to ensure that the range of activity designed to support children and families experiencing poverty is captured and monitored.
"The report produced by officers sets out the scale of the challenges to reduce child poverty in West Lothian. It demonstrates the commitment to work across partners to mitegate the impact of poverty and there will be a strong focus on reducing child poverty across West Lothian."
The new report can be found at: www.westlothian.gov.uk/anti-poverty