WEST Dunbartonshire is the worst place for women to live in Scotland, according to a new survey for BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour.

The area ranked last among all 32 of Scotland’s local authority areas, and 356th out of the 380 in the UK.

The report, conducted by the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen), was based on a series of criteria including safety, wellbeing, education and life expectancy.

West Dunbartonshire ranked lowest in Scotland and the UK overall for life expectancy of women at 78.7 years.

The area also came in joint fifth bottom place with the Midlothians for women’s safety – last year the Scottish Government revealed that West Dunbartonshire had the second highest rate of domestic abuse in Scotland.

The figures arrive despite parts of Scotland ranking among the top 10 across Britain in the Woman’s Hour survey with East Dunbartonshire polling best in Britain overall.

West Dunbartonshire Council (WDC) said it faced a number of challenges, but was committed to tackling them.

A spokeswoman for Clydebank Women’s Aid said: “We are not surprised at the difference between East and West Dunbartonshire and while women are an oppressed group both nationally and globally, poverty inevitably exacerbates women’s life experiences.

“However, domestic abuse and violence against women in general cuts across all boundaries and poverty should not be viewed as a cause of abuse against women.

“Women’s services need to be adequately funded to provide the vital, expert support that is needed.”

Clydebank and Milngavie Gil Paterson MSP, whose constituency covers both the worst and the best areas for women, said poverty played a major factor in the results.

He said: “In West Dunbartonshire, we have amazing, strong women who are a shining example to the rest of the country. It just so happens many are affected adversely by the endemic deprivation that scars communities in my constituency Clydebank, for example.

“To bring these women out of poverty is a mammoth and highly complex task – but the SNP government takes empowering women seriously and it has been a hallmark of the party in recent years.

“To name some measures so far, we have brought about the first gender balanced cabinet in the UK, we will be giving free sanitary products to many women and we are increasing the hours of free child care.

“What makes it that more complicated for me is I represent the worst and the best areas for women to live in, in Scotland.

“The neighbouring council area East Dunbartonshire has been named the best place in the whole of Britain for women to live. It is amazing and distressing that two areas can be so close together yet so far apart.”

MSP for Dumbarton Jackie Baillie said further action was needed to tackle austerity.

She added: “It is disappointing that West Dunbartonshire has fared so poorly in this study.

“The fact that our next door neighbours in affluent East Dunbartonshire have topped the list highlights the urgent need to tackle the shocking inequalities in Scotland.

“Both men and women are affected by poverty but women are even more likely to be marginalised due to gender discrimination and fewer opportunities to work or start a business.”

A spokeswoman for West Dunbartonshire Council told the Post: “Life expectancy and poverty are inextricably linked and together with our community planning partners, we are doing everything we can to address the underlying social and economic factors, including deprivation and generational health inequalities.

“We are determined to improve the life chances of all our residents by increasing access to jobs, education and training, ensuring families access their full benefit entitlement, offering improved housing and also intervening at the earliest opportunity to close the attainment gap and support families.”

None of the 32 Scottish local authorities were in the bottom 10 for Britain overall.

Across Britain, the worst place to live was found to be the London borough of Islington.