A tsunami of poverty is set to hit Dundee when the knock-on effects of coronavirus set in, it is feared.
The ongoing pandemic has made targets to reduce child poverty in the city “virtually unachievable”, it has been warned, leading to a plea for more national funding.
The warning came as “sickening” figures highlighted almost half (43.8%) of children in Dundee are living in the most deprived areas of the city, with coronavirus pushing more people into poverty.
At a meeting of the council’s policy and resources committee, Lochee Labour councillor Michael Marra said there has been an “abject failure” to reduce inequalities nationally.
“These figures are sickening really and we also know what’s coming down the line,” he said.
“There is the health emergency but there is also an economic emergency, the greatest recession in 300 years that we know is about to hit.
“It’s a tsunami that’s coming.
“We have been told for 10 years now there has been a national effort and the figures we have in front of us represent an abject failure of that national effort. There can’t be more of the same.”
The UK Government introduced a temporary £20 weekly rise in Universal Credit payments earlier in the pandemic, due to end in April, and councillors unanimously agreed to write to the Treasury calling for this to be maintained.
The council also called for this to be extended to benefit claimants which have yet to be transferred to Universal Credit.
Mr Marra added: “The impact of removing this £20 uplift will push 200,000 children into poverty across the UK.
“There has been huge amounts of money committed and borrowed by the UK Government during the pandemic.
“I know we will pay the cost of these things in time to come but I know that the real cost of this will fall on children who can’t be fed, families who can’t meet ends meet and more and more people being pushed into deeply unfortunate lifestyles.”
The council is the latest in more than 60 charities, campaign groups and other organisations calling for the increase to be extended, including Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross.
Council leader John Alexander said the Dundee Partnership, made up of organisations across the city, is working to support those who have suffered most during the pandemic.
“This report sets out a very harrowing situation, one which we know very well,” he said.
“Inevitably Covid-19 is making those challenges even greater and starker and we have deployed and employed a series of efforts to support communities, as have communities themselves.”
But community planning manager Peter Allen said national targets, including reducing the number of children in relative poverty to less than 10% by 2023, are unlikely to be met.
He said: “I think its inevitable that the interim targets are going to be virtually unachievable.
“Any target set for Scotland was always going to be challenging for Dundee because of the proportion of poverty we have.
“I would be very surprised if, despite best efforts, there’s any chance we will be able to meet these targets in a year or two.”
The UK Government was approached for comment.