Call to help tackle poverty

More than 9000 emergency food supplies were handed out last year.
More than 9000 emergency food supplies were handed out last year.

Everyone must play their part in eliminating the hardships that large pockets of the capital endure.

That’s the call to arms by the deputy leader of the city council, who is fronting a bold poverty commission to get to grips with Edinburgh and surrounding area’s increasing gap between rich and poor.

Edinburgh enjoys a reputation as the most affluent city in Scotland. But poverty, homelessness and inequality exists across the capital, says Councillor Cammy Day, the council’s poverty champion, who is now calling on businesses, charities, public bodies and citizens to come together to make Edinburgh a fairer place to live.

The Edinburgh Poverty Commission will look at a range of priorities including reducing reliance on food banks, easier access to childcare and people’s own money and ultimately attempt to lift people out of poverty.

More than 9000 three-day emergency food supplies were handed out by a city food bank last year – an increase of 18.5 per cent in the space of 12 months. Around 22 per cent of Edinburgh’s children are living in poverty – in some areas it’s as high as 35 per cent, while men are paid on average 13 per cent more than women.

The estimated cost to the public sector of addressing the impacts of poverty in Edinburgh is around £408 million each year.

Mr Day stressed the poverty commission would not be just another council initiative, but will instead a dramatic shift in efforts to bring together expertise from business, the third sector and those who have experienced poverty to establish real change.

He said: “Poverty and inequality in the city is still here. Whilst I accept that there are parts of the city that are doing fantastically well, and we should encourage that, we shouldn’t forget that some parts of the city have been left behind.

“This all started with us trying to address child poverty. There’s still 25 per cent or so of children in the city living in poverty – that needs to change.

“We want the whole city to get involved and try and address a wide range of issues, whether that’s child poverty, whether it’s doing something differently to address the issues around food banks, being able to heat your house and pay your rent – all these issues need to be looked at.”

The commission, which will run for a year, will include business leaders, the NHS, police, charities and importantly, those who have experienced poverty in their day-to-day lives.