WEST Dunbartonshire has the highest age-standardised death rate of all council areas in Scotland according to new National Records of Scotland (NRS) figures.

The bleak figures found in the NRS annual statistics on population reveal that after adjusting for age, people in West Dunbartonshire were eight times as likely to die from Covid-19 compared to those in Highland council area.

The report also coincides with recent findings in the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation, which found that people living in deprived areas are worst affected by Covid-19.

The figures also found that West Dunbartonshire has one of the worst declining populations in the country behind Argyll and Bute and Inverclyde.

Overall, Scotland’s population was at a record high of 5.46 million however the lowest number of births were recorded since records began in 1855 with fewer than 50,000 registered.

Marriages were also at an all-time low – a little over 26,000.

Gil Paterson, Clydebank and Milngavie MSP, said: “It is a sad fact that people who live in the most deprived communities in the country suffer from the worst health and shortest life expectancy.

“Poverty, low income and low employment opportunities all contribute to this unfair divide in our society and that is why the Scottish Government’s core policy of eradicating child poverty and inequalities is so important and must be progressed with all haste.

“The coronavirus has demonstrated just how unequal our communities are with higher death rates in poorer areas and the virus has delayed the introduction of 1,140 hours of free nursery and early years learning in many areas, a policy which is designed to improve life chances for those most disadvantaged.

“In light of the huge spike in covid-19 infections in the central belt of Scotland which has seen older people’s infection rates soar, with the 60 to 79 age group doubling in the past month, can I urge everybody to wear face coverings, wash hands, observe social distancing rules so that we can contain this nasty virus and save lives.”

Martin Docherty-Hughes, West Dunbartonshire MP, said: "These figures are a stark reminder of the tragic impact Covid-19 has had on our communities here in West Dunbartonshire. This is a deadly infectious virus and with transmission on the rise again we owe it to those who have lost loved ones to take it seriously.

"The evidence from across the UK shows clearly that it is those living in the most deprived areas being hit hardest by coronavirus.

"As we mark Challenge Poverty Week the need to tackle ingrained inequality and deprivation caused by Westminster austerity has never been greater.

"Poverty is not inevitable and I will never stop fighting for the powers Scotland needs to support disadvantaged families through the economic challenges ahead.

"The Tories cannot be allowed to once again place the burden of austerity on the poorest and most vulnerable in our communities."