One in nine of city population ‘living in poverty’ says study

One in nine of city population ‘living in poverty’ says study

Gareth Edwards
The Scotsman

MORE than 50,000 people in Edinburgh are living in poverty and relying on benefits, new figures reveal.

And 9000 of the city’s residents are classed as living in Scotland’s most deprived areas, which include parts of Craigmillar, Muirhouse and Pennywell.

The sobering figures come from a new study into deprivation in Scotland, which looks at the nation’s most impoverished areas and examines why people are trapped in the cycle of poverty.

Looking at health, education, housing and employment, it has been drawn up to help the Scottish Executive work out where investment needs to be channelled to tackle social problems.

The study found that in Edinburgh, 52,821 people were classed as income deprived – 11 per cent of the city’s total population.

And 24 areas of the city, with populations of around 750 people, were classed as being in the most deprived five per cent areas of Scotland.

Craigmillar was highlighted as the most deprived area in Edinburgh – the 19th most deprived in Scotland – and it was estimated that at least half of the people there were out of work.

David Walker, secretary of Craigmillar Community Council, said: ‘I can imagine Craigmillar will be fairly high up the list when it comes to low levels of income. The last analysis we saw put the average earnings of residents in Craigmillar at £10,000 a year, so we’re well aware of this problem.

‘It is becoming increasingly difficult for families on low income to take that step up.’

The Social Focus on Deprived Areas report divided Scotland into population ‘pockets’ of around 750 people, and gathers figures on education, the NHS and the multiple index of deprivation.

The study gathered information about families who are on benefits, including income support, jobseeker’s allowances and working families tax credits.

It used the information to find which areas of Scotland were classed as in the most deprived five per cent.

In total, 9256 people lived in the city’s – and Scotland’s – worst areas, including Craigmillar Castle Loan, Muirhouse Crescent, and Niddrie Mains.

Across Scotland, household incomes are increasing, but there is no indication that the gap between rich and poor is closing.

The analysis showed that people living in the 15 per cent most deprived areas of Scotland were four times more likely to be receiving income support than those living in the rest of Scotland.

More than 40 per cent of children in these areas were dependent on someone in the home receiving income support, compared with just ten per cent of children in the rest of Scotland.

Christina Cran, spokeswoman for Shelter Scotland, the housing and homeless charity, said: ‘The deprivation and poverty that exists in Scotland is often hidden from sight.

‘Shelter staff see each day the effects that a mixture of issues such as debt, bad housing and insecurity can have on people’s lives. It can bring about ill health, a lack of self-esteem and a cycle of homelessness that can be hard to break.

‘Shelter hopes the new research from the Executive is used to bring about real change to people’s lives in Scotland’s life by investing support and finance into areas of multiple deprivation.’

Communities Minister Malcolm Chisholm said: ‘We are absolutely committed to tackling the problems of our most deprived communities. It is essential we know the full picture so that resources can be targeted where they are needed. This detailed analysis gives us that.’

Lord Provost Lesley Hinds said: ‘While Edinburgh has a strong economy, we are aware that there are also deprived areas.’