Poverty in Edinburgh

In June 2018 the Edinburgh Partnership and The City of Edinburgh Council[1] gave approval to the establishment of the Edinburgh Poverty Commission. The Commission was tasked with providing recommendations and action plans which can be incorporated into planning for key decisions such as the Council Change Strategy, the Council Budget, the development of a new Edinburgh Partnership local outcome improvement plan, and the development and implementation of the 2050 Edinburgh City Vision.

The Commission published an interim report[2], focussing on Poverty and Coronavirus in Edinburgh, on 19 May 2020 and its final report[3] on 30 September 2020.

The City of Edinburgh Council, Edinburgh Poverty Commission (28 June 2018)

Edinburgh Poverty Commission, Interim Report (19 May 2020)

Edinburgh Poverty Commission, Final Report (30 September 2020)

The Edinburgh Poverty Commission published an interim report on 19 May 2020. Both the full report and summary report can be found on the Commission’s website.

In the report, the Commission highlighted, “Huge numbers of people in the city have lost or are at risk of losing their livelihood as a result of this crisis. Many of those who have lost their job have never claimed out-of-work benefits, do not know where to get help, and are struggling with the delay in receiving Universal Credit payments.”

The Edinburgh Poverty Commission published its final report, A Just Capital: Actions to End Poverty in Edinburgh on 30 September 2020. A supplementary data and evidence paper was also published. As part of the launch of the report, short films were produced to that allowed citizens to share their experience of living with poverty.

Key items of note in the data and evidence paper are:

  • An estimated 77,600 (15% compared with 19% for Scotland) people were in poverty in Edinburgh in the year prior to the COVID-19 outbreak including almost one in five children (18%).
  • Child poverty and in work poverty have risen in the last five years.
  • Almost two thirds of children in poverty live with a family where adults are in paid employment.
  • Over three quarters of people in poverty live in social or private rented accommodation.
  • Almost two thirds of people (65%) who are living in poverty do not live in the 20% most deprived datazones in Scotland – poverty exists across Edinburgh.
  • Between August 2019 and August 2020 the number of unemployment benefit claimants trebled from 6,400 to 19,100; the highest rate of growth in Scotland.
  • Over a third of workers (37%) are ‘not in quality jobs’ – i.e. not working the hours they would like, for low pay or not with the conditions they would like.
  • The proportion of people in non-permanent jobs (7.5%) is higher than the Scottish rate and most other major UK cities.
  • Edinburgh has a low proportion of social housing; 14% of homes compared with 25% across Scotland. It has a higher level of private rented homes; 25% in Edinburgh compared with 14% across Scotland, the exact opposite of social rented housing. There is high demand for social rented housing with 203 bids for each advertised property for rent in 2019/20.
  • Of the 3,100 additional households the Council has a statutory duty to accommodate each year there are approximately only 2,500 social lets available.

Both the City of Edinburgh Council and Edinburgh Partnership responded to the Commission’s report at meetings in December 2020. Links to the reports considered are given below.