EAST Lothian’s politicians have hit out at figures that show that one in five children in the county – nearly 4,000 in total – is growing up in poverty.

Iain Gray MSP described the statistic, published by the End Child Poverty coalition, as “an unacceptable situation which should concern all of us” and called on a “concerted, multi-agency effort” to tackle the issue.

The figures come less than a year after East Lothian Poverty Commission – set up to look at the scale of poverty in the county – found significant poverty among children in the county.

Mr Gray said: “Last November, all political parties at Holyrood came together to pass the Child Poverty Bill, which sets new targets for reducing the number of children growing up in poverty.

“In doing so, MSPs agreed that child poverty is unacceptable, that it is not inevitable and that it can be eradicated.”

And his Westminster counterpart Martin Whitfield MP said it was “totally unacceptable” and “underlines the continuing gap between the wealthiest parts of the county and other areas which suffer significant pockets of deprivation”.

He added: “The action plan produced last year following the work undertaken by East Lothian Council’s Poverty Commission is helping to address this issue, but it is clear that much more has to be done at all levels to reduce child poverty.

“The figures also show that there are some areas in the UK where more than half of children are growing up in poverty, demonstrating the growing crisis of child poverty.”

Councillor Norman Hampshire, depute council leader, said the local authority was “taking a number of actions” to tackle poverty.

He said: “Our overarching aim as a council is to reduce inequalities within and across our communities.

“While there is a lot of work to do, the East Lothian Poverty Commission was established to explore these issues.

“We are taking a number of actions – such as investing in new homes, working to improve the employability of the local workforce and tackling food poverty.

“The six area partnerships have also been involved in funding and supporting initiatives which are helping to make a difference for children.

“Despite the challenging financial times we face like all councils, I’m determined that we continue to do everything we can to help our children and young people achieve their potential and tackle the challenges associated with poverty.”