Local MSP Jackie Baillie is backing plans to increase child benefit for local families in a bid to reduce child poverty rates in Dumbarton, Vale of Leven and Helensburgh.
Research from the Child Poverty Action Group has shown that 26.5% of children in West Dunbartonshire and 20.4% of children in Argyll and Bute live in poverty.
In her keynote speech to Scottish Labour Conference on Saturday, party leader Kezia Dugdale set out Scottish Labour’s support for an increase to Child Benefit of an extra £240 per year by 2021 using the new welfare powers of the Scottish Parliament.
Labour will urge the SNP to include the plan in the Child Poverty Bill that is currently making its way through Holyrood. If that is rejected then Labour will seek other parliamentary mechanisms to bring the policy into effect.
It is estimated the proposal to top-up Child Benefit could lift 18,000 children out of poverty in the first year alone rising to 33,000 children by the end of the parliament.
Child Benefit for the first child is currently £1,076 per year. Under Labour’s plan, by 2021 this would increase to £1,316 per year.
“It’s time for the SNP government in Edinburgh to drop the excuses and use the powers of the Scottish Parliament to help tackle child poverty head on.
“It’s a national scandal that as many as one in five children in Argyll and Bute and over one in four children in West Dunbartonshire are growing up below the poverty line.
“With prices rising in the supermarkets and wages failing to keep up with the cost of living, many local families will feel the impact on household budgets like never before. This will only get worse in the coming years so we need to act now.
“Labour will use Scotland’s new powers to lift local children out of poverty by increasing child benefit for every family in Dumbarton, Vale of Leven and Helensburgh.
“Instead of trying to drum up support for another independence referendum by blaming everything on London, we need action not excuses from the SNP