Child poverty costing council up to £1bn a year with landlords 'contributing' to problem

Figures have shown that Govanhill in Glasgow has the highest child poverty rate in the UK.

Child poverty costing Glasgow City Council up to £1bn a year with landlords ‘contributing’ to problem iStock

Child poverty in Glasgow is costing the city up to £1.09 billion a year it is estimated as one senior councillor warns some private landlords actually contribute to the problem.

The council has received £19.4 million from the Scottish Government Whole Family Wellbeing Fund to tackle the problem.

New ways to fight poverty are being drawn up to help improve the lives of poor families in the city.

Figures have shown that Govanhill has the highest child poverty rate in the UK.

And the city overall has child poverty levels of between 24 per cent and 34 per cent, a council committee meeting heard last week.

Responding to a question at the meeting about how private landlords could be engaged in tackling issues, city treasurer councillor Ricky Bell said: “Housing is a big problem but we can’t run away from the challenge that some private landlords contribute to the poverty in this city and don’t help it.

“I want to say there are some absolutely fabulous private landlords out there who do a really really good job. We wouldn’t be able to do a lot of things in the city without their support but they are not all knights in shining armour.”

The SNP councillor said: “For a city like ours the challenge is not always about counting the number of people in poverty – it is about how deep many of our families are in poverty and what are the things we can do in order to try and help alleviate some of that.”

Councillor Bell presented a report to the city administration committee, which revealed that the annual costs of dealing with the damage caused by child poverty is between £823 million and £1.09 billion.

Councillor Bell said: “The requirement for this additional expenditure is quite simply outrageous and unacceptable.”

Councillor Cecilia O’Lone, Labour, asked what could be done to help families in Govanhill where there is a “crisis.”

Councillor O’Lone said: “We now have Govanhill having the highest area for child poverty in the UK. That is absolutely startling when you stop to think about it.”

She asked about immediate interventions for the Govanhill area to overcome this and said it is at “crisis level” for children living there.

Councillor Bell said the UK Government’s austerity agenda continues to “crush many people in the city and we continue to fight against that.”

He said the new approach to fight child poverty is about reacting quicker and going into areas to deal with specific issues.

An official said work has already kicked off in Govanhill to help families as Southside Central has been identified as one of a number of “booster wards” where special steps are taken to help communities.

The council paper presented by councillor Bell to the committee outlined how efforts have been made to find new ways of tackling child poverty as although the “system does incredible work” there is duplication and inefficiency.

The city is following a multi agency approach called the Child Poverty Pathfinder, which aims to make it easier for families to access services and drives system change in how families are supported among other goals.

Other work has included the combination of funding to create the Whole Family Early Intervention Fund, which totals £22.1 million to be spent across the next three years.

The meeting also heard that a new job post has been created called the Programme Director of Whole Family Wellbeing and Child Poverty to oversee the development and roll out of the work to support families.

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