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Councillor wants fairer spread of cash for tackling poverty

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By Marc McLean, local democracy reporter
Councillor wants fairer spread of cash for tackling poverty

AREA committees who administer cash to their communities should be given even more resources to tackle poverty, a councillor has argued.

A total of £312,000 was divvied up between Annandale and Eskdale, Nithsdale, Stewartry, and Wigtown last week.

A further £180,000 was split between them to be spent solely on tackling poverty and inequalities.

However, the money was not split evenly. Due to a scoring method based on poverty calculations in each area, the cash was divided as follows: Nithsdale – £76,806 (42.67 percent); Wigtown – £45,450 (25.25 percent); Annandale and Eskdale – £34,326 (19.07 percent); and Stewartry – £23,418 (13.01 percent)

But Lochar Councillor Linda Dorward, pictured, former co-leader of the council, said: “Child poverty hasn’t moved, and in fact it’s extremely high in Scotland, sitting at 24 percent of all children living in poverty.

“In Dumfries and Galloway it’s up to 27 percent, which is horrendous.”

Calling for the other areas to receive as much financial support as Nithsdale, she said: “I think in all areas, especially in the west where we’ve got massive issues with child poverty, I’m wondering if we can have a discussion about what people think about perhaps increasing those percentages.”

Liz Manson, the council’s interim head of community services, responded: “These percentages are worked out from a small number of criteria. Things like the number of free school meals that are given out and homelessness applications.

“One of the things we’re looking at just now is whether these are still the relevant criteria against which we work out these percentage allocations.”

Councillors agreed to discuss the matter again following an updated report due in June.

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