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One in five of nation’s poor living in Glasgow

GLASGOW is suffering from “intense” poverty with tens of thousands of people on the breadline.More than 100,000 of working age claim benefits and almost 143,000 are what the Scottish Executive calls “income deprived”.

That means a lone parent with two children living on less than £186 a week, or a couple with two children with an income of £268, have less than £10 a day per person to cover food, fuel, clothes and any other bills such as replacing worn-out household goods.

The shock figures emerged in a report compiled by respected academics, campaigners and frontline workers, including the Child Poverty Action Group, the Poverty Alliance and Caledonian University’s Scottish Poverty Information Unit.

Poverty in Scotland 2007 says a fifth of Scotland’s poorest people live in Glasgow, which has half the country’s poorest areas.

The report concludes: “Glasgow’s poverty is not only extensive, it is also intense.”

Basics become luxuries

ALAN Dick lives on the bread line. He is wheelchair-bound with cerebral palsy and relies on state benefits.

The Cardonald man says the Government doesn’t do enough to help people out of the poverty trap.

Alan, 50, said: “It really is a trap. I’ve seen other people in the position of being on benefits and they lose their ambition.

“It’s so hard to budget all the time. It’s especially difficult for families.”

Some of the basic essentials become luxury items.

Alan added: “Most of my money goes on heating and when that’s paid for I have just enough for food.

“Benefits means always watching what you spend.”

Alan says poverty is more than just going without. It takes away freedom of choice and makes people insecure.

He said: “I’ll have to rent forever and never own my own home. I feel insecure and disempowered.

“If you have your own home then you have a base to work from.

“You can come and go as you please but in my position other people have the chance to play God over you.”

Timesfile

910,000 people live in poverty in Scotland, including 240,000 children 101,400 adults claim benefits in Glasgow 140,000 people in Glasgow are “income deprived” with low wages Glasgow has half of Scotland’s poorest areas 77,000 children living in poverty either don’t or can’t claim free school meals

The report, which covers a five-year period up to this year, makes uncomfortable reading for First Minister Jack McConnell, who spoke at its launch at Caledonian University today.
His response was to announce a Labour Party manifesto commitment to extending free school meals to a further 97,000 children.

It would give every child in Scotland, who officially lives below the poverty line, whether their parents are in or out of work, the opportunity to get a free school meal.

The Child Poverty Action Group estimate that 77,000 children living below the poverty line but currently do not get a free school meal and many of them are in Glasgow.

One of the report’s editors, Dr John McKendrick, of Caledonian University, said: “Glasgow can be proud of the highly visible signs of progress made in some places – Glasgow Fort in Easterhouse-Garthamlock, the transformation of Gorbals and the development of Silverburn, for example.

“But as Glasgow’s poverty becomes less obvious, and as we seem to be making steady progress, there is a danger we lose sight of the extent of the problem in our midst.”

City council leader Steven Purcell claimed “good progress” was being made in reducing poverty but admitted there was “still a great deal of work to do”.

He said: “Getting people into work is the most important thing we can do to tackle long-term poverty, to benefit them, their families and entire communities.

“The council is offering training opportunities and better careers advice in schools.”

Overall the report said 910,000 people, including 240,000 children, live in poverty in Scotland.

Glasgow’s neighbouring local authorities are also badly affected. In North Lanarkshire 20% of adults – 40,000 – are on benefits, and 17% of the population as a whole – around 54,000 – are classed as income deprived.

The report adds: “Similarly, Glasgow’s other neighbouring authorities of West Dunbartonshire, Inverclyde, Renfrewshire and South Lanarkshire are among those with the highest rates of benefit claimants and the highest rates of poverty.”

High levels are also evident in North and East Ayrshire.

One of the factors worsening Glasgow’s case is the lack of Government support for asylum seekers housed in the city..

Head of Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland, John Dickie, said politicians had to use the elections to say how they planned to tackle poverty.

He added: “Do we want our children to grow up in a society scarred by poverty, or are we willing to pay for decent wages, benefits and services that would lift people out of poverty?”

10:28am today Fri 02.03.07


By Brian Currie

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