Burnfoot’s deprivation laid bare

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Burnfoot is one of the most deprived areas in Scotland, according to a report published on Scottish Borders Council’s website last week.

Statistics show that Burnfoot residents lack access to a range of employment opportunities including part-time jobs and are heavily dependent on manufacturing industry. It also shows that the estate has a huge rate of benefits dependency amongst working-age people including 28.9 per cent claiming ‘key’ benefits compared to 12.3 per cent in the Scottish Borders and 15.4 per cent in Scotland.

And the report states: “Benefits dependency has always been high in Burnfoot, regardless of the economy and continues to remain stubbornly high, despite efforts at community regeneration.”

Health is also a major issue with 15,489 emergency hospital admissions per 100,000 compared to 12,163 in the Borders and 10,232 in Scotland, and Burnfoot is also worse than average for respiratory disease, with 2,337 admissions per 100,000 compared to 1,673 in the Borders and 1,603 nationally.

However, the most startling statistic shows that 41.6 per cent of first-time mums are under 19 years of age, compared to only 11.8 per cent in the Borders and 12.9 per cent in Scotland. It also shows that 47.1 per cent of women smoke at the booking stage of their pregnancy which is more that double the Borders average of 22.8 per cent and the Scottish figure of 19.3 per cent.

Commenting on this report, newly-elected ward member Watson McAteer said: “We have to recognise that there are areas in Burnfoot that are in serious trouble and that is where we have to concentrate our efforts. Large numbers of people living in Burnfoot live in good conditions, have good jobs and are in good health and are not impacted by these figures. It is a complex issue and it is a complex place. But we have to recognise the reality here, move forward and deal with it.”

The August 2013 Area Profile for Burnfoot was prepared for a Community Planning Partnership workshop aimed at reducing inequalities in the Scottish Borders.

And speaking yesterday (Thursday) Councillor Stuart Marshall said he was disappointed that it took a journalist to bring this report to his attention, and that while he didn’t agree with it entirely, it certainly highlighted huge problems: “We can’t ignore this report. We have huge issues in certain parts of Burnfoot. Let’s hope some good comes from this. Hopefully we can go forward from this and kick start the recovery of some of the most deprived areas of the estate.”

For the purpose of the report Burnfoot is split into four areas, central, south, west and east and these are called datazones.

The statistics show that three of Burnfoot’s four datazones fall into the 15 per cent most-deprived in Scotland overall. Only five datazones in the Scottish Borders fall into this 15 per cent group; the other two are in Langlee, Galashiels. One datazone in Burnfoot falls into Scotland’s 5 per cent most-deprived for overall multiple deprivation and two fall into the 10% most-deprived in Scotland. Deprivation in these two datazones has become deeper since the previous Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation release in 2009.

Three of Burnfoot’s datazones fall into the worst 15 per cent in Scotland for income deprivation and one is in the worst 5 per cent in Scotland. This represents a deepening of income deprivation since 2009.

One datazone in Burnfoot is within the 15 per cent worst in Scotland for employment deprivation, which has also deteriorated since 2009.

Two datazones in Burnfoot are within Scotland’s 10 per cent most-deprived for health deprivation, showing that health deprivation has not deepened in the most-deprived areas since 2009 but it has widened to take in more of Burnfoot.

All four of Burnfoot’s datazones are within the worst 15 per cent in Scotland for education deprivation, which has deepened since 2009. Three are within the worst 10 per cent in Scotland and two are within the worst five per cent in Scotland.