Edinburgh poverty: Rents are going up but wages stay the same – Cammy Day
Edinburgh’s Independent Poverty Commission continues to work on our three key themes – “pockets”, “prospects” and “places” – with a dedicated group of commissioners who understand poverty in Edinburgh and who ensure have the voices of citizens at the centre of our work.
During the first phase of their work, the Commission asked people about the pressures that keep incomes low and living costs high, specifically in Edinburgh. Organisations and citizens are now being asked to give their comments on the emerging findings as well as the second phase of the consultation, themed “Prospects”, which runs until 20 June. This will look at health and well-being, education, career progression and the skills that our citizens need to ensure they can share in the city’s success. Questions being asked include how living on a low income can affect your health and well-being and how living in poverty can affect your start in life, education, training and jobs prospects.
During the consultation carried out earlier this year, the Commission heard from many organisations such as the Carnegie UK Trust and Scotcash about affordable credit; from CHAI and the Granton Information Centre about advice services and about how the benefits system is working in Edinburgh now that we are transitioning in Universal Credit.
Amongst the issues raised by people from across city were zero hours contracts causing uncertainty and anxiety, cuts to benefits, rent going up yearly but not wages, discrimination against people because of where they live, lack of jobs for single parents and unaffordable childcare for working families.
We want to understand how living on a low income can affect the health and well-being of people in Edinburgh; how poverty affects the ability of children in Edinburgh to have a good start in life; the barriers that make it difficult for people in poverty to get a job, work more hours, or progress to better paid jobs. We also are interested to hear what has been successful, and what more the city can do to address these issues.
At our meeting later this month, we’ll be discussing the opportunities of the City Region Deal and the city’s Employment strategies. Higher and further education and the local authority school representatives will consider the poverty-related attainment gap. Early years will round off our day. We want to hear the reality and aspiration from our witnesses and the real voice of people who experience poverty.
Meanwhile, the weekend past saw further consultation on our exciting plans to redevelop the Granton Waterfront. Locally, people have told us they want to see more affordable housing, cultural events and jobs for local people. Granton Waterfront is one of the biggest regeneration sites in the UK and we want to ensure that everyone shares in the benefits of a multi-million pound development, with high quality housing, opportunities for employment and a place for residents to live, work and relax.
Staying in the north, it was great to meet with the many parent council representatives around Trinity Academy, to update them on our plans for a new school and potentials for phase one of investment in sport and creative arts. Our administration has committed £10 million to the first phase and await decisions from the Scottish Government on additional wave 4 funding to finalise the plans. Parents, young people and the wider community are engaging on our plans to have a state-of-the-art school delivered for 21st century learning.
And finally . . . no further forward on Brexit, another fine mess the Tories have gotten us into.
Councillor Cammy Day is the Labour group leader at Edinburgh City Council