New figures from the End Child Poverty coalition show 26.7 per cent of children locally were affected by poverty in 2019-20 – a rise of 3.4 per cent rise in five years.
In total, 6205 families in the region were living in far from ideal circumstances when the research was carried out last year. Poverty is defined as a family of two adults and two children having £400 a week to live on after housing costs; or £223 for one adult and one child; £280 a week for one adult and two children; and for two adults and one child it’s £343.
Campaigners are calling for urgent action at national and local level.
They pointed out that The Child Poverty (Scotland) Act requires the new Scottish government to ensure fewer than 18 per cent of children are living in poverty by 2023/24 and less than ten per cent by 2030.
End Child Poverty want local powers, including over economic development, housing and financial support, all used to maximise family incomes and reduce the costs parents face.
They say the impact of Covid-19 on women’s employment in particular is now pushing many women and their children into greater poverty.
Commenting, John Dickie, director of the Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland, said: “This new data is a stark reminder that child poverty was still rising in every part of Scotland, even before the pandemic struck. The challenge now is for government at all levels to use every power they have to boost family incomes and reduce the costs that struggling parents face.
“We all want to live in a society where children are supported to be the best they can be, but the reality is very different for too many. “
South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth is furious at the local increase and said: “The rise in child poverty across Dumfries and Galloway is utterly shameful. Often the extent of poverty can be hidden in rural areas and too many people like to portray the region as one of idyllic living. But this report exposes the growing scandal of poverty too many local families’ face.
“We need to open our eyes to the reality that many children in our region are going to bed hungry at night and that was before the economic impact of the pandemic.”