IT’S “deeply depressing” that poverty has got worse since Sweet Sixteen was made, one of the film’s creators has said.

Paul Laverty, who wrote the script for Ken Loach’s drama, said the “crisis” now is not the same as the one in 2002.

The Sweet Sixteen cast, including Martin Compston, were at the Glasgow Film Festival for the 20th-anniversary screening of the hit film.

When Sweet Sixteen was made, Laverty says, food banks and bed banks did not exist.

READ MORE: Martin Compston says issues in Sweet Sixteen present now 'more than ever'

Fast-forward 20 years, the Scottish screenwriter said things have only got more desperate for the most vulnerable in society.

Asked by The National how present the issues portrayed in Sweet Sixteen still are, Laverty said: “When we made this film 20 years ago now, there were no food banks then. There were no bed banks. The crisis in poverty was not the same as it is now.

“We've had years of austerity. We've seen more punishment, more sanctions, which we covered in a film called I, Daniel Blake. So it's actually remarkable to see that things have got worse than that.

"It is deeply, deeply depressing to see that Victorian attitude again, especially to people who are disabled, especially people who are on Universal Credit having their benefits cut in such a vicious fashion.

“And the most recent one, of course, the £20 deduction from Universal Credit, it’s going to push another 400,000 people, they estimate, into poverty.

The National:

Sweet Sixteen stars Annmarie Strain and Martin Compston were on the red carpet for the screening of Sweet Sixteen

“So it's absolutely totally disgraceful, systematic cruelty, nothing, nothing else.”

Annmarie Strain, who starred as Chantelle in Sweet Sixteen, agreed: “In Barrhead where I’m from, it, unfortunately, is still a very big part of today’s society. I think more needs to be done to support people who find themselves in a disadvantaged situations.”

That inequality has led Strain to join drama company In Cahootz, working to help those in marginalised communities in Scotland get into acting.

She said: “I work for one group in particular called Creative Citizens where people are in recovery, whether that be from mental health or drugs and alcohol addiction, and it’s brilliant to give these people a chance and not have a label attached to them.”

The National:

Paul Laverty said poverty has got worse since he wrote Sweet Sixteen

Department for Work and Pensions figures show overall poverty in the UK staying at broadly the same level since the time Sweet Sixteen was made in 2002.

However, figures for 2019/20 show child poverty rates at 31%, up from 29% in 2002/03 on an upwards trajectory.

Food bank usage has also been rising in the UK, with the cost of living crisis set to put more pressure on low-income families.

Asked about the relevance the film still has, Laverty told a story of when he was in Edinburgh and met some surprisingly young fans who were stealing motorbikes at the time.

The National:

Martin Compston hugs Annmarie Strain as the Sweet Sixteen cast are reunited

“Just a couple of years ago, I was down in Edinburgh,” Laverty told The National. “And I met all these kids who were stealing motorbikes. It was unbelievable. They were like 14-15.

"And I always tell people what I was doing, was asking them questions and they said: 'Aw you made films? Aye what kind of films you made?' And I goes 'Sweet Sixteen'. And he just stopped.

“He was 14, he had just stolen a motorbike. And he was sitting there. And he goes, 'Right. Tell me the names of the characters.'

READ MORE: Watch Martin Compston show off his Gaelic skills after revealing he's learning language

"I mean, I couldn't remember half the names of the characters. He remembered every single one, he remembered the name of the baby Callum. And then he goes, 'I've watched the film 15 times'. He knew everything about it. It was really remarkable."

Laverty said it was great to see the film sticking with so many people, talking about another story about the character Pinball in Sweet Sixteen.

He said: “And then we showed Angel’s Share in Polmont, I was with Paul Brannigan, and I heard someone being called Pinball with red hair. And I goes ‘that’s a bit of a coincidence’. And he says ‘do you not realise all the redheads in here get called pinball?’.

“It’s really remarkable how a film, a story has a life of its own really.”