Ahead of the Scottish budget on Thursday (14th Dec), South of Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has called for a budget which will tackle growing poverty and end austerity within Dumfries and Galloway as a new report shows over 40% of children in the region live in material deprivation in the region.

The new Scottish Government report highlighted the growing levels of poverty across Scotland, with Dumfries and Galloway identified as one of the worst regions in the country for high levels of child poverty.

The region was the 4th worst regions in the country for child poverty, with 42.3% of children living in material deprivation.

It has been widely rumoured that Finance Minister, Derek MacKay will implement further cuts in this year’s budget, with councils yet again being the ones to take the hardest hit.

Over the past 5 years Dumfries and Galloway Council have had to close a funding gap of nearly £60m through savings and an increase in council tax last year of 3%, due to Government funding cuts. However, a report before the full council this week (12 December) warns that a further £49m gap will have to be filled if the UK and Scottish Government continue their policy of austerity.

Colin Smyth MSP said, “The upcoming Scottish budget is significant for Dumfries and Galloway. Years of cuts to council budgets by the Government has taken its toll on funding for many of our local services. This new report shows the challenges we face locally, with nearly half of children in Dumfries and Galloway living in material deprivation. This is completely unacceptable but the ability of the local council to try to protect local families against the impact of central government austerity is limited every time their budget is cut. It does not have to be this way. In the budget, we need the Scottish Government to be bold and to say no to austerity by using the Scottish Parliament’s new tax and benefit powers to properly fund council services and protect the most vulnerable. The Government could use the budget to lift thousands of children in our region out of poverty by increasing child poverty benefits or bringing in a new Scottish Child Tax Credit and it could also stop the cuts to council services. I’ll be joining protestors from Dumfries and Galloway at the Scottish Parliament on 14th December to send a clear message to the Scottish Government- no ifs, no buts, no more cuts”.