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'One in six' Scots children go to bed hungry as parents struggle for food

'Poverty is tearing families apart' says head of Save the Children in Scotland.

Child reaches for sandwich

Children are bearing the brunt of the recession with one in six youngsters from struggling families going to bed hungry, according to a charity.

Around three-fifths of the poorest families in Scotland have had to cut the amount they spend on food in the past year, research from Save the Children reveals.

Two large-scale surveys were carried out, questioning both parents and children in cash-strapped households.

Almost 40% of parents in the worst-off families are stressed and constantly worry about how to make ends meet.

Around a quarter of low-income parents frequently skip meals and one in seven children in these families regularly do not get enough to eat.

In the face of rising food prices, around three-fifths of low-income parents have less than £30 a week to spend on food for their family, compared with a national average of £76.

The charity also says that almost half of the poorest families are short of money every week and nearly 30% have nothing left to cut back on.

One in six children in the most impoverished homes often feel run down or unwell because of poor diet and living conditions.

More than a quarter of parents on low incomes are arguing more and over 20% say they are increasingly likely to snap at their children because of money worries.

Save the Children said witnessing the financial worries of their parents could place an impossible burden on children.

One 11-year-old, identified only as Duncan, told researchers: "My mum makes sacrifices so that I can do the hobbies I want to do to keep me off the streets. She cuts back on buying herself new shoes and clothes."

Sharon, a single parent from Glasgow, said: "When you're on a low income, every single penny comes into it, even small things that others take for granted.

"I try not to talk about money too much with my kids but obviously they're very aware that I'm on my own and I struggle for money."

Sara, a mother living in poverty in Edinburgh, said: "Some of the hardest things to pay for are everyday stuff like washing up liquid and toilet roll and prices seem to be getting higher.

"I'm always trying to explain to my kids that I'm skint and I'm not being nasty to have to say no all the time. It's really hard."

Douglas Hamilton, head of Save the Children in Scotland, said: "Children should not be bearing the brunt of the recession. Poverty is tearing families apart, with parents buckling under the pressure of mounting bills and children seeing their parents argue more about money. It's inexcusable that this is happening in Scotland in 2012.

"Given that nearly half of children living in poverty in Scotland have at least one parent in work, it is truly appalling that those parents can't earn enough to give themselves and their kids a decent life.

"All working parents should be able to earn enough to meet the basic needs of their children.

"The Scottish Government must do more by supporting parents into work, make work pay, provide extra childcare support to help parents and protect the poorest and most disadvantaged from further cuts."

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