SHOCK new figures showing that more than one in five children in Helensburgh and Lomond are living in poverty have been branded “shameful”.

The figures, released this week by the End Child Poverty Campaign, have been condemned by local politicians – while the chair of the area’s food bank says demand from families struggling to cope has never been higher.

In Helensburgh Central, 21.26 per cent of children were assessed as living in poverty, while in Lomond North poverty levels were even higher, at 21.42 per cent.

Mary McGinley, the chair of the Helensburgh and Lomond Foodbank, says Helensburgh has pockets of deprivation that "are as bad as anywhere in Scotland".

She said: "There is a marked increase in people who need the foodbank. It's appalling that in his day and age people rely on foodbanks to feed themselves and their children.

"It's shameful that it has got to this stage. The welfare state is not providing a safety net for people.

"One in five children are living in a house which is recognised as having food and fuel poverty."

Launched in November 2014, Helensburgh and Lomond Foodbank issued 986 bags of food in its first year, 1,169 in the second and in the third year that number jumped to 1,596.

A total of 1,768 people benefited from the foodbank in its first year, 2,045 in the second year and 2,449 in the third year.

Mary said low pay coupled with rising costs for essentials such as food, fuel and transport was pushing people onto the breadline, as was delays in benefit payments.

She added: "Our key principle is that we never turn anyone away because no one is going to walk through our door if they don't need food."

Meanhile, Jackie Baillie MSP says the figures should shock the SNP and Tory governments.

She said: “Far too many families in Helensburgh, Dumbarton, Vale of Leven and Lomond are missing out on the basic things most children take for granted – warm clothes in winter, days out with their family and food on the table.

“That is why Labour proposed using the powers of the Scottish Parliament to top-up child benefit and immediately lift 30,000 children out of poverty – but the SNP joined up with the Tories to block it.

“We have a choice - we could end austerity, invest in our public services and lift thousands of children out of poverty.”

Councillor Aileen Morton, leader of Argyll and Bute Council, told the Advertiser that, having previously volunteered with both the Children’s Panel and the Citizens Advice Bureau, she had seen just how big an impact poverty can have on people’s lives.

She added: "For children it can be really isolating to feel that they aren’t having the same experiences as their peers, and in the worst cases go hungry.

"The national focus can sometimes be on more urban areas where there are substantial areas of deprivation but this is an issue that impacts right across the country and every town – no matter how affluent an area may seem on the surface."

The councillor added that with the Child Poverty (Scotland) Act now coming into effect the council would be working with partners and the Scottish Government to play its part in trying to improve the current situation.

She added: "It’s great to see the work of charities such as the local foodbank but this is an issue that needs tackled much more substantially so that those charities are no longer needed in the way they are at the moment."

The Scottish government told the Advertiser it is determined to do everything in its power to tackle child poverty and ensure better outcomes for children and families.

A spokesperson said: "Scotland is the only country in the UK to have set bold targets in legislation to reduce, and ultimately eradicate, child poverty.

“Our Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan is the next step in meeting those targets, with firm actions to increase family incomes and reduce living costs, backed by a range of investment including our £50 million Tackling Child Poverty Fund.”

Meanwhile, the End Child Poverty Coalition says figures show the Government’s reforms are failing to reverse the rise in child poverty.

The charity says large families, families with a disabled child and lone parent families have seen a disproportionately large increase in relative poverty.

Chairman Sam Royston said: "We are very concerned that it is children growing up in the most vulnerable households that are being hit the hardest."