ALMOST 30 per cent of children in North Ayrshire are living in poverty, a new report has revealed.

Over 2,300 kids in the Three Towns are living below the poverty line with others across the local area also showing high levels of poverty.

Figures from the End Child Poverty Coalition show that Irvine West has the highest levels of child poverty across the local authority’s wards, with one councillor saying the ‘unacceptable’ figures should ‘shame us all’.

In Saltcoats and Stevenston 1,539 (34.9 per cent) of children are living in poverty with 844 (26.83 per cent) in Ardrossan and Arran and 1,041 children (28.56 per cent) in Kilwinning.

Across North Ayrshire 29.26 per cent of children live in poverty, dropping slightly from 30.4 per cent in the last 2016 report.

A child was classed as poor if their family had less than £248 a week to spend after housing costs.

That amount is less than 60 per cent of median household income in the UK. The End Child Poverty Coalition, made up of charities, faith groups and trade unions, found just under a third of children in North Ayrshire (29 per cent) were living in poverty with areas such as East Ayrshire, Inverclyde, having a quarter of children in poverty.

Irvine West SNP Councillor Shaun Macaulay , who is also NAC’s Youth Champion, said: “These figures should shock and shame us all.

“I have visited some excellent services working in communities throughout North Ayrshire that are working hard to reduce poverty levels, however these figures show that more needs to be done by us all. Austerity is cited as the main cause of a rise in levels of child poverty.

“The report highlights that the UK Government’s freezing social security payments for the poorest families in the country had been the biggest cause of rising child poverty levels.

“We will not rest on our laurels and will work twice as hard to ensure we do all we can to stop children in our communities growing up in poverty.

Council leader Joe Cullinane said: “One child living in poverty should be unacceptable to us as a society never mind the grotesque levels of poverty highlighted within this report.

“The Labour administration in North Ayrshire are trying to shift resources to tackle poverty but we are swimming against the tide of central government austerity.

“We need the UK and Scottish Government’s to wake up to the negative impact that cuts to local services is having on our communities and in particular those living in poverty who rely most on those local services.

“Unfortunately, what we have is a budget settlement that leaves us facing a £19m funding gap for next year.

“Scotland and North Ayrshire needs real change. We need an end to austerity and in its place investment in the economy, our public services and our citizens to raise their living standards.”

Since the introduction of the benefit freeze, the coalition of charities, faith groups and unions has warned that as prices rise, low income families would find it increasingly hard to pay for the same basic essentials.

Sam Royston, Chair of End Child Poverty, said: “It is scandalous that a child born in some parts of the UK now has a greater chance of growing up in poverty, than being in a family above the breadline”