BARRHEAD has been branded East Renfrewshire’s “poor cousin” as shocking child poverty figures highlight inequality in the region.

Figures reported to the Scottish Government reveal almost one in three children in the town are living in poverty.

That has led to calls from local councillor Angela Convery for urgent action to address the issue.

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She said: “It’s time something was done about it.”

In Barrhead, 30 per cent of children live in poverty – more than 10 per cent higher than anywhere else in East Renfrewshire.

Neilston, Uplawmoor and Newton Mearns North is second on the list, with 18.2 per cent, while the lowest levels are found in Netherlee, Stamperland and Williamwood, where the figure is six per cent.

“It concerns me greatly to see my ward still has the highest rates of poverty in East Renfrewshire,” said SNP councillor Ms Convery, whose comments came as East Renfrewshire Council considered a report, to be sent to the Scottish Government, on child poverty in the area.

“Living in poverty in one of Scotland’s most affluent areas, Barrhead has been known as East Renfrewshire’s poor cousin for long enough.”

The report found the average weekly, full-time pay in East Renfrewshire is £744, which is the highest in Scotland.

Ms Convery said: “It says that the average full-time pay for residents in East Renfrewshire is £744. Not in Barrhead it isn’t.

“It also states that, between April and December of 2018, there were 242 community care grants and 344 crisis grants awarded. That’s 586 grants needed in only an eight-month period – and don’t get me started on the financial hardships that are being caused by Universal Credit.

“These are just figures on a piece of paper but we need to remember that, behind these figures, are a child and a family living in poverty. We need to make sure this report is acted open and not just a tick-box or a pat-on-the-back exercise.”

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Crisis grants are available for people who have faced an emergency or disaster and are struggling with the expense, while community care grants are meant to help vulnerable people set up home or live independently within their community.

The report also stated that 3,600 children are still living in poverty in East Renfrewshire, which is 16 per cent of all children.

Councillor Caroline Bamforth said she was “quite horrified” by the figure.

Council leader Tony Buchanan added that the report highlights the work being done to tackle child poverty across the authority.

“We need to do all we can do find those areas and to tackle the effects and the root causes of poverty,” he said. “Much of this is generational change and, thankfully, we have started the process some time ago.

“We can’t be complacent, we’ve got to keep pushing and trying harder.”