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Caring duties stop capital residents from escaping poverty

CARING responsibilities are cited as a key barrier to escaping poverty in Scotland's richest city.

Edinburgh's first Poverty Profile has revealed people say their duties as carers can pose a major block to escaping living on the breadline through work.

Other factors include a lack of numeracy and literacy skills, a lack of experience and qualifications, lack of confidence and poor interview skills. One in 10 of the 50,000 people who are living below the poverty threshold in the city said their caring duties for an older or disabled person stopped them getting any kind of work.

The wealth divide in Edinburgh was uncovered in the poverty report published last week. It showed that despite average incomes in the city being 9% above the rest of Scotland, one in five households is living below the poverty threshold.

The caring figures go before Edinburgh City Council tomorrow. Scottish Labour's social justice spokeswoman Jackie Baillie said caring should not be a block to people finding work.

The Dumbarton MSP said: "The scope of inequality that exists in Edinburgh is quite shocking for a city with such a strong reputation for success."

"Spending on health inequality has also been cut in real terms and as this survey shows the responsibility of providing care for loved ones is a barrier to people entering the workforce, which limits their ability to escape from poverty."

The poverty profile found the top 10% earning residents earn an estimated £1000 per week on average. This compares with only £134 per week among the lowest earning 10% of workers.

Concerns over carers' allowances have also been raised. Last week it was revealed one woman who looked after her 64-year-old husband who suffers from dementia received a pension of £40 and only £3.81 a day carers' allowance.

A third of those on the poverty line said lack of qualifications was also a barrier to finding a job.

Edinburgh Liberal Democrat MP Mike Crockart said: "This report shows that Scottish Liberal Democrat plans to build a stronger economy and a fairer society are crucial in our efforts to break down barriers which prevent people from getting on in life.

"Only recently the Scottish Government finally agreed to crucial LibDem plans to deliver more childcare for two year olds."

The poverty line is measured at £125 per week for a single person, £258 if they are a single parent family and £349 for a couple with two children.

The highest levels of poverty are found in areas such as Muirhouse, Clovenstone and Drumbryden, where over 30% of households are on low income.

However, poverty rates in more affluent areas such as Dean Village and Comely Bank are only around half the average of 22% across the city.

Contextual targeting label: 
Local government

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