A WAR of words has erupted over levels of child poverty in local communities.

Tom Arthur MSP, whose Renfrewshire South constituency includes Johnstone, Elderslie, Kilbarchan, Lochwinnoch, Howwood, Barrhead, Uplawmoor and part of Neilston, claims cuts to vital services imposed by the UK Government is driving people into poverty.

The SNP man spoke out after a study by Loughborough University revealed that more than a quarter of children in his constituency are living in deprivation.

Mr Arthur said: “The government in Westminster’s implementation of the Universal Credit welfare reform and their ongoing programme of austerity continues to drive people into poverty and is keeping them there.

“The reasons for child poverty are complex and there isn’t one single factor. There are lots of mitigating circumstances, however one of the main sources is undeniably the welfare reforms implemented by the UK Government.

“Until Scotland has devolutionary powers that include the ability to raise different funding that directly affects child poverty in the country, decisions made elsewhere will always have a huge impact on children up here.”

The research carried out by Loughborough University found that 27 per cent of all children in Renfrewshire South live in poverty.

In neighbouring Renfrewshire North, the figure is 21 per cent.

However, a spokesman for the UK Government said the study is based on estimates, rather than actual measurements of income.

He added: “Children growing up in working households are five times less likely to be in relative poverty, which is why we are supporting families to improve their lives through work.

“Also, statistics show employment is at a joint record high, wages are outstripping inflation and income inequality and absolute poverty are lower than in 2010 but we recognise some families need more support and that’s why we continue to spend £95billion a year on working-age benefits to help ensure every child has the best start in life.

“Meanwhile, Scotland has significant welfare powers and can top-up existing benefits, pay discretionary payments and create entirely new benefits altogether.”