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.

Commenting, Jackie Baillie MSP for Dumbarton and Scottish Labour deputy leader, said: “These figures have uncovered the deep inequalities that still exist within our own community and across Scotland.

“In 2020, in a country as wealthy as Scotland, the fact that we have people dying because of the area that they live in is completely inexcusable. Urgent action must be taken to address the persistent levels of disadvantage that exist for too many people.

“I have long called for greater investment to be made in our local area. We need a localised and targeted approach to ensure that the most deprived areas in our community are given the support that they need. I will continue to fight for those most in need until these inequalities are a thing of the past.”

West Dunbartonshire MP, Martin Docherty-Hughes, 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."