BBC Scotland, Child Poverty and Political Mischief

Thanks to one of my fellow sharp-eyed twitterati for this item.

This morning, Tuesday 10 January 2012, the BBC News website Scotland ran the following lead story.

BBC NEWS Scotland Politics

‘Scottish child poverty hotspots revealed

The worst areas for child poverty in Scotland have been mapped for the first time

Continue reading the main story

Related Stories

Action is needed to tackle “shameful” levels of child poverty in parts of Scotland, campaigners have urged.

It comes as figures suggest 13 Scottish councils have wards where more than 30% of children live in pockets of severe poverty.

The worst areas were in Glasgow, the west of Scotland, Edinburgh, Dundee, Fife, Aberdeen and Stirling.

The Campaign to End Child Poverty warned inflation, unemployment and cuts could see levels of deprivation spiral.

The group has produced a map of child poverty for every ward, council and constituency.

John Dickie, speaking on behalf of Scottish members of the Campaign to End Child Poverty, said: “It is shameful that in almost every part of our country there are children who are missing out and seeing their future life chances seriously harmed.

“With public spending budgets under severe pressure the need to invest to prevent the numbers of children living in poverty spiralling is greater than ever.”

‘Stark reminder’

The map classes children as living in poverty if they are in families on out of work benefits or work tax credits where income is less than 60% of median – before housing costs.

Continue reading the main story

“Start Quote

Effective collaboration at all levels of government is required”

Liam McArthur Scottish Lib Dems

The Campaign to End Child Poverty said the latest official figures showed that overall in Scotland 20% of children live in poverty on this measure.

A Scottish government spokeswoman said: “We are determined to address the root causes of child poverty.

“That’s why last year, we launched Scotland’s first ever national strategy to tackle child poverty, which will see Scotland’s poorest families benefit from help to increase their household incomes and improve their children’s life chances.”

Labour social justice spokesman Drew Smith said work was the best route out of poverty.

He added: “That is why as well as investment in the vital early years and improving childcare, we need a renewed focus on creating jobs and implementing a Living Wage for Scotland.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesman Liam McArthur said: “In light of this report, and the effect that unemployment has on levels of poverty, it is more clear than ever that effective collaboration at all levels of government is required to help ensure the right conditions for creating jobs and reducing unemployment in our communities.”

Scottish members of the Campaign to End Child Poverty include Action for Children Scotland, Barnardo’s Scotland, Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland, Children 1st, the Church of Scotland, One Parent Families Scotland, Poverty Alliance and Save the Children.

Scottish council wards with rates of child poverty more than 30%

Local Authority


Percentage of children living in poverty

SOURCE: End Child Poverty
Aberdeen City Northfield 35%
Tillydrone/Seaton/Old Aberdeen 31%
Dundee City Lochee 31%
Coldside 31%
Maryfield 30%
East End 36%
North East 3 32%
East Ayrshire Kilmarnock South 35%
Edinburgh City Forth 30%
Sighthill/Gorgie 36%
Portobello/Craigmillar 30%
Fife The Lochs 33%
Kirkcaldy East 32%
Buckhaven, Methil and Wemyss Villages 40%
Glasgow City Linn 32%
Greater Pollok 30%
Craigton 31%
Govan 38%
Southside Central 40%
Calton 50%
Anderston/City 37%
Garscadden/Scotstounhill 36%
Drumchapel/Anniesland 41%
Maryhill/Kelvin 31%
Canal 43%
Springburn 52%
East Centre 44%
Shettleston 31%
North East 4 38%
Inverclyde Inverclyde East Central 31%
North Ayrshire Irvine West 33%
Saltcoats and Stevenston 35%
North Lanarkshire Airdrie Central 30%
Renfrewshire Paisley North West 33%
South Ayrshire Ayr North 35%
Stirling Castle 31%
West Clydebank Central 32%

Distressing reading and surely one Scotland should be ashamed of – but there’s more to this story.

There isn’t anything to suggest this is a UK report. The inference is that this is solely concerned with a Scottish problem.

In fact this is a report carried out for the whole of the UK. But far from it hitting the headlines for the BBC’s NEWS for the UK it is a railway story that is taking precedence there, followed by English Labour Party, Syria, then one about Christmas spending, migration…several stories.

 You get the picture.

There is a menu of links into other lesser stories – 5th on the list is one about child poverty so presumably this is because child poverty is greatest in Scotland and as usual the rest of the UK isn’t too interested in Scottish stories. Well no, the menu link states ‘London comes out ‘worst for child poverty’.

Indeed, click onto the link and up comes a map highlighting the areas of London the report claims have the greatest child poverty in the UK: more than 52% of Tower Hamlets children are described as living in poverty. It goes on that there are other areas in the English city which also appear among the 10 worst areas.

Let’s pause to check out where these statistics come from.

This is a report from the Campaign to End Child Poverty which defines what it means by poverty as families with incomes 60% below the average of £25 000.. The affected children, naturally, live within low income working families or out of work families.  A qualification on the figures is that they do not measure the number of children in poverty but local levels of child poverty, so we have percentages but no numbers.   And the figures relate to estimates for the middle of 2011.

The report’s conclusions are that in England some 20.9% children are in poverty = 2.4 million (before housing costs which will raise the levels of poverty).

The average comes out at 1:5 children (20.9%) classified poor. Naturally this breaks down to mean that some areas have far higher than average poverty and other areas far less.

Despite the impression being given by BBC News Scotland, this is not solely a Scottish story at all. Yes it has relevance but not particular to Scotland.

The report’s list of the twenty areas  with the greatest levels of child poverty.

Table 2: Top 20 parliamentary constituencies with highest levels of child poverty across the UK:

(pre-2010 boundaries)
% of children
in poverty 2011
Bethnal Green and Bow 51%
Manchester Central 49%
Poplar and Canning Town 48%
Belfast West 46%
Birmingham, Ladywood 46%
Liverpool, Riverside 46%
Islington South and Finsbury 46%
Hackney South and Shoreditch 45%
Birmingham, Sparbrook and Small Heath 45%
Regent’s Park and North Kensington 44%
Glasgow North East 44%
Holborn and St.Pancreas 44%
Birmingham, Hodge Hill 41%
Tottenham 41%
Belfast North 41%
Manchester, Blackley 41%
Islington North 40%
Leeds Central 40%
Manchester Gorton 40%
Nottingham North 39%

So in the list of worst offenders for child poverty one Scottish area, Glasgow North East, is included – at 44%. The others are in England and Northern Ireland

BBC NEWS England

The BBC page for England’s news relegates the story well down its list of items.Leading with the UK headline of the high-speed railway.

 The report reached the Northern Ireland page but only in the list menu for link to stories.

It did not merit a mention on the page for Wales.

So it was only BBC Scotland which thought the story merited highlighting as its main feature.  It revealed that are 13 council wards with more than 30% of children in poverty and these are Glasgow, west of Scotland, Edinburgh, Dundee, Fife, Aberdeen and Stirling.

I have underline council wards because these are very small areas and we don’t have figures only percentages so it’s hard to know exactly what the problems are.

Moving from larger constituencies to smaller council wards in tracking figures  is also confusing and not especially enlightening.

I was presuming at this point the list provided in BBC Scotland’s item was in some kind of order, with Glasgow having highest levels of child poverty and Stirling least. Well Glasgow does head the list for Scotland but the others appear to be itemised under BBC Scotland’s usual interesting way of listing places.

There were maps in the original piece but I cannot reproduce them here. The people of Orkney and Shetland wouldn’t like them as they were boxed in somewhere along the NE coast.

 For the whole of Scotland the figures supplied are as follows:

Aberdeen City 16%
Aberdeenshire 9%
Angus 15%
Argyll and Bute 14%
Clackmannanshire 23%
Dumfries & Galloway 17%
Dundee City 27%
East Ayrshire 23%
East Dunbartonshire 10%
East Lothian 10%
East Renfrewshire 10%
Edinburgh, City of 19%
Eilean Siar (Western Isles) 11%
Falkirk 17%
Fife 20%
Glasgow City 35%
Highland 15%
Inverclyde 24%
Midlothian 18%
Moray 13%
North Ayrshire 25%
North Lanarkshire 22%
Orkney Islands 8%
Perth and Kinross 11%
Renfrewshire 19%
Scottish Borders 13%
Shetland Islands 7%
South Ayrshire 19%
South Lanarkshire 18%
Stirling 14%
West Dunbartonshire 26%
West Lothian 18%

Child poverty is a disgrace in a countries as rich as ours. I have worked with children in poverty and understand some of the difficulties they face in life. But this distortion of news, by failing to place this report into its proper context is nothing short of political mischief-making by the BBC.

 For the purposes of research I watched BBC Scotland’s Reporting Scotland this evening. The child poverty story ran second. Apart from a mention of action taken by the UK and Scottish governments there was nothing in the report to put the findings into any kind of UK context. It was presented as a Scottish issue. Devilishly difficult this unbiased reporting. Apparently.

Below is a copy of this morning’s page for


RSS feed

10 January 2012 Last updated at 10:21

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Ed Miliband will tell Labour that it needs to accept there will be less money to spend if it wins the next election. 69

Immigration has had little impact on unemployment levels in the UK, says a report by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR).

Also in the News

Northern Ireland

Wales or Cymru

Scotland or Alba


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