CHILDHOOD poverty rates in Lochgelly, Cardenden and Benarty are amongst the highest in Fife.

And the Kingdom as a whole has higher childhood poverty rates than the national average, directly contrary to Fife Council ambition. 

An annual report has revealed Buckhaven, Methil and Wemyss Villages were ranked the worst in Fife – with a shocking 34.4 per cent of children in relative poverty. 

Lochgelly, Cardenden and Benarty were not far behind with 33.3 per cent. 

Mike Enston, Fife Council’s executive director of communities, presented the annual poverty and prevention report at a recent council meeting, and told councillors: “Our ambition is to be better than the national average but it’s actually going the other way at the moment.

“What is that telling us? That we’re not doing enough? Maybe it’s simply telling us that we’re up against one of the most challenging cost of living crises in a long time. That’s bound to have an impact. Regardless, it’s important to acknowledge where we are.” 

The latest poverty data suggests that 23.2 per cent of children in Fife are living in relative poverty before housing costs – 18.5 per cent are living in absolute poverty. 

That's above the national averages of 21 per cent and 16.5 per cent respectively. 

In his report, Mr Enston stated that the breadth of activity undertaken in the reporting year had been substantial, but despite this, "poverty remains persistent”.

He continued: “Too many children in Fife live in poverty and too many people are unable to manage financially and suffer from significant insecurity and lack of control as a result.

"In Fife, we’ve been focusing on ensuring opportunities for all through the Plan for Fife. 

“We need to prevent crises from occurring. Too often services are on the back foot.

"Personalised support that takes account of individual and family needs, circumstances and strengths is key to our approach of building resilience within individuals, families, and communities.”