Comment: ‘Efforts must be made to tackle poverty’

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Edinburgh has always been a city of haves and have nots, nothing is new in that sense.

But the level of child poverty 
revealed today in what is one of the richest cities in the UK is nothing short of appalling.

The sad fact is that a third of children in some parts of the city are growing up in circumstances that are likely to cause them lasting harm.

Even in the most affluent neighbourhoods like Morningside one in ten are living in what is officially classed as poverty.

There is endless research to show that children growing up in poorer households tend to achieve less at school, earn less as adults, enjoy poorer health, and, ultimately, live shorter lives.

That is the fate of around 14,000 children growing up in Edinburgh today.

You don’t have to contrast that with the great wealth that can be seen in some quarters of the 
Capital to be shocked by the inequality. Just look at the great affluence that so many of us enjoy, even though we may have had to tighten our belts of late, in a city where the average wage is £36,000 – the third highest in the UK behind London and Aberdeen.

So what is the answer? There is no easy solution of course.

Creating jobs like much of the new development going on in the city just now will do is part of it. Firms paying decent wages is too. Good quality, flexible and affordable childcare is also a huge factor. Charitable giving has its place too, but it can’t be a longterm solution.

But what we must hope is that this report focuses minds at a time when public spending is coming under growing pressure.

Ensuring a good start in life, and opportunity for all, whether they were born in a mansion or a slum, should be the top priority of government at every level from Westminster to the City Chambers.

Efforts must be redoubled to tackle what is a matter of shame for Edinburgh and Scotland.