Child poverty in the Western Isles was the main topic of a meeting yesterday (Wednesday 19 June.)

Comhairle members were given information on the Anti-poverty and Local Child Poverty Strategy at the meeting of the Education, Sport and Children’s Services Committee.

The Child Poverty (Scotland) Act 2017 requires that the Scottish Government reduce the number of children who live in poverty by 2030. The Act sets out ambitious targets to mitigate poverty-related experiences affecting the children and young people by date. 

· Fewer than 10% of children living in families in relative poverty.
· Fewer than 5% of children living in families in absolute poverty.
· Fewer than 5% of children living in families living in combined low income and material deprivation.
· Fewer than 5% of children living in families living in persistent poverty.

Initial planning for the first Local Child Poverty Action Report was led by the Outer Hebrides Community Planning Partnership.

The organisation already had a short-term Working Group looking at poverty factors across the population of the Western Isles.

The Working Group had commenced development of an Anti-poverty Strategy with the key partners across the community.

Chairman of the Committee, Councillor Angus McCormack, said: “A significant challenge for the Working Group was to establish meaningful and reliable databases as many of the measures used nationally have limited relevance due to the low population density and social diversity within our island communities.

“Many national databases also fail to recognise specific rural poverty drivers that disproportionally affect our area. It has been identified by the Working Group that the use of such data to define national policy and funding models can leave us at a significant disadvantage.

“Officers of the Comhairle, the WIHB and many other partner organisations have been working for a number of years to develop a local co-ordinated approach to addressing poverty in the Western Isles and have been lobbying for changes to policy and procedure. This early work allowed us to be well-placed to form a structured working group to bring forward the first Local Child Poverty Action Plan & Report.”