New figures released this week that show around 18% of children in Moray are living in poverty have been slammed by a local councillor.
Fochabers/Lhanbryde Labour councillor Sean Morton hit out at a situation he says is forcing vibrant Moray communities to struggle with an “open wound that needs to be healed”.
Councillor Morton, who will contest the Moray seat in the UK Parliamentary elections next year, said that the only fix was for all political parties at Westminster and Holyrood to join together in making the fight against poverty a priority.
He said: “It’s heartbreaking to think that 18% of Moray’s children are living in poverty – in some parts of Moray that figure is even higher.
“To see vibrant communities like Buckie, Elgin and Forres struggling with rates as high as 22% is shocking. It’s an open wound in our communities that needs to be healed – we can only do that if there is the political will.
“The will to act is not the same as pinning the blame on one government or another. Since reading this report I’ve seen the SNP blame Westminster and opposition parties blame the SNP.
“It’s a plague on both their houses – the austerity measures hit the poorest hardest and the SNP’s record has been wanting. They took over from Labour in 2007 when child poverty was falling significantly and things have gone into reverse.
“The only way we can fix this is if all parties come together and make it a priority. I don’t want to see in a year’s time more of the same talk from MSPs and MPs and no action.
“We must tackle Moray’s chronic problem of low-pay and increase the minimum wage. We need to give tax breaks to companies willing to pay The Living Wage too.
“And we must properly fund places at university and college and apprenticeships again to give young people from poorer backgrounds a hand up. We need to do all this and more to fix this shameful problem.”
The figures released by the Campaign to End Child Poverty rate those families in Scotland living on less than £204 a week after housing costs as being in poverty.
They have estimated that 100,000 children in Scotland could be plunged into poverty by 2020 if the UK government does not rethink tax and benefit policies.
The SNP’s Jamie Hepburn said the figures would only get worse without significant policy changes. He said: “That one in five children live in poverty in a wealthy country like Scotland is quite simply a disgrace.
“We’re one of the richest countries on Earth and yet thousands of children grow up in poverty.
“This is an unacceptable and unsustainable state of affairs that is only worsening as Westminster’s austerity agenda continues to hit.”