Local MSP Jackie Baillie has welcomed West Dunbartonshire Council’s support for struggling families following the publication of new research which shows that the Labour-run council has one of the highest school clothing grants in Scotland.
West Dunbartonshire Council provides £100 to parents with low incomes to help with the costs of back-to-school shopping. This is the second highest grant provided by local authorities in Scotland.
A BBC investigation revealed that the level of support varies dramatically across Scotland with West Lothian Council providing the highest school clothing grant at £110 and Angus Council providing the lowest at only £20.
Labour-run West Dunbartonshire Council is one of only five councils in Scotland that exceeds the recommended level set by the Scottish Government at £70.
Low-income families in Helensburgh and Lomond receive a clothing grant of just £50 from Argyll and Bute Council and Jackie has made an appeal to councillors to match the level of help given to families in Dumbarton and the Vale of Leven.
The report also says that two SNP-controlled local authorities, Angus and North Ayrshire, have actually cut school clothing grants in recent years, with Angus Council set to abolish theirs completely in 2017.
“Over the past few weeks, local parents have been busy kitting out their children to go back to school and the costs can add up very quickly. That’s why I am delighted that the Labour administration at West Dunbartonshire Council has prioritised support for children from less well-off backgrounds. This money makes a huge difference to local families, especially when councils elsewhere in Scotland pay barely enough to buy a whole school uniform and some are planning to abolish clothing grants completely.
“It is disappointing that poorer families in Helensburgh and Lomond receive only half the amount given to those in Dumbarton and the Vale of Leven. I would challenge councillors in Argyll and Bute to aim higher and look at the impact this extra funding is having on family budgets in West Dunbartonshire.”
Cllr Michelle McGinty, Convener of Educational Services, said:
“In 2013 we took the decision to double the money parents receive from £50 to £100 and we raised the threshold in each of the last three years so more families get help with the costs of going back to school. This goes hand in hand with our strategy to support struggling families by increasing the number of children who benefit from free school meals. Although our budgets are under constant pressure from cuts imposed by the SNP Government in Edinburgh we will continue to put local children first