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Tuesday, 17 September, 2002, 09:57 GMT 10:57 UK
Child poverty report under fire
Sighthill flats
Glasgow has a terrible reputation for poverty
An area of Dundee is said by a report to have the highest rate of child poverty in the UK.

But the figures on which the finding is based have been described by Dundee City Council as "out-of-date" and "misleading".

The research by Save The Children and the University of York said 96% of children in Dundee's Whitfield area were living in poverty.

But the city council pointed out that the Whitfield South ward has not existed for more than four years and that millions of pounds had been spent on regenerating the area.


This report demonstrates huge inequalities in children's lives

Madeleine Tearse
Save the Children

Its leader, Julie Sturrock, said she was in favour of publicising child poverty, but that using out-of-date statistics could do more harm than good.

Susan Elsely, from Save the Children Scotland, said the figures used were produced by Oxford University in 1998.

These were the most recent statistics that enabled researchers to conduct a comparative study across the UK, she told BBC Radio Scotland.

Benefit system

Ms Elsley hoped that the number of children living in poverty in Whitfield had dropped over the past four years.

"If there are less children living in poverty in Dundee, that is something to be celebrated," she said, "and is the exact reason why a report like this should be regularly produced".

Speaking in Dundee, First Minister Jack McConnell said: "I will not rest until we are tackling, in a long term and sustained way, child poverty.

Jack McConnell
Jack McConnell: "Higher standards"

"That needs parents in work and a benefit system that supports those most in need.

"But for the Scottish Parliament, it means higher education standards for the schools so that kids get the qualifications they need to prosper."

The findings conclude that while children's lives are improving UK-wide, there are striking disparities between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Wales has more child poverty than England or Scotland, but there are said to be sharp local concentrations of child poverty in England.

Schools league

Children in Scotland and Northern Ireland fare better at school than their counterparts in England and Wales.

Scotland tops the league with 78.6% of 16 and 17-year-olds in schooling, compared to England's figure of 69.5%.

Five English council areas have higher child poverty levels than Glasgow, where 58% of its children live in poverty, the highest of any Scottish council area.

But Scotland has the highest suicide rates among young people - 33 per 100,000 in the 15-24 age group for men, compared to 25 per 100,000 in Northern Ireland and Wales and 13 per 100,000 in England.

'Complex solutions'

Madeleine Tearse, UK policy manager for Save the Children, said: "Complex problems demand complex solutions.

"This report demonstrates huge inequalities in children's lives and there is still a long way to go to tackle issues like child poverty effectively in the UK.

"It is impossible to imagine how governments can effectively reach those children most in need of their support without detailed UK-wide and country-level monitoring of children's well-being."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Alan Grant reports
"The report claims a staggering 96% of children in Whitfield are poor"
See also:

20 Jun 02 | Scotland
10 May 02 | Scotland
11 May 01 | Health
02 Dec 99 | Scotland
28 May 99 | Business
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