WELFARE reformers are overlooking the “stark reality” of Highland poverty, an MSP has warned.
Kate Forbes, who represents one of the most remote and rural areas of Scotland, felt compelled to speak up after meeting a man sleeping rough in the snow at Dingwall train station.
But the SNP politician said thousands more are living in deprivation, hidden in cold and threadbare homes.
High costs for food, fuel, travel and clothes have been blamed but the Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch MSP said this is being ignored.
She said: “Highland poverty isn’t always sleeping on the station for all to see.
“It’s huddled in a cold home, isolated and lonely for lack of transport, or it’s choosing between heat or something to eat.
“It’s there, whether you can see it or not and it’s about time this stark reality shaped welfare policies, retailers’ pricing and our sense of neighbourliness.”
Half of people in rural Scotland live in fuel poverty, spending more than 10% of their income on heating and cooking, and one-fifth are in extreme fuel poverty, spending at least 20%.
“There are higher prices for food, clothes and groceries, as well as the increased charges of fuel and the travel costs that are slapped on to every trip.”
Miss Forbes added: “Whatever the reason, we are ignoring the stark reality of Highland poverty.”
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