50,000 Edinburgh families live ‘in poverty’

An estimated 6216 people across the Lothians rely on food banks. Picture: Neil Hanna

An estimated 6216 people across the Lothians rely on food banks. Picture: Neil Hanna

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ONE in five families in Edinburgh is living below the poverty line – despite the city having higher levels of affluence than anywhere else in Scotland.

A new report on inequality in the Capital describes Edinburgh as “a city divided” with average incomes nine per cent above the rest of the country, yet 50,000 families below the poverty threshold.

And it said that while there were concentrations of deprivation in particular areas of the city, there were also significant levels of poverty in every part of the Capital.

The report, to be considered by councillors next week, said: “Edinburgh is an affluent city on average figures, but these conceal sharp inequality. The city has one of the highest concentrations of wealthy citizens in Scotland, alongside some of the highest levels of poverty and deprivation.”

At the end of last year, the Trussell Trust estimated there were 6216 people in Edinburgh and the Lothians relying on food banks.

The report said 22 per cent of households in the city live on incomes below the poverty threshold – set at £125 per week for single people, £258 for a single parent with two children and £349 for a couple with two children. It noted: “Only four other Scottish local authorities record levels of poverty higher than Edinburgh.”

Eighteen per cent of all children in Edinburgh live in low income households, a total of some 17,600 young people, and 19 per cent of workers were paid below the living wage.

The report said the highest levels of poverty were found in areas such as Muirhouse, Clovenstone and Drumbryden, where more than 30 per cent of households were on low income. But even in more affluent areas such as Dean Village and Comely Bank an estimated 12 per cent of households were on low incomes.

Council health and social care convener Ricky Henderson said: “Edinburgh has an image of affluence, but this report highlights the appalling fact we are a divided city, where people live quite different lives side by side. Alongside great wealth, many people are living in poverty with an unacceptable standard of living.”

He said the council was committed to fighting deprivation and inequality.

Green councillor Maggie Chapman said: “There is a limit to what Edinburgh can do on its own to improve equality – national systems for taxing the wealthiest and dealing with corporate tax avoidance have to change.”

She said 14 years ago the Lord Provost had launched what was billed as an ambitious but realistic blueprint to tackle social exclusion. “With the gaps between rich and poor having widened since, we must urgently rediscover out appetite for action against poverty.”