Mixed response to Falkirk’s prosperity rating

The Oxfam survey ranked Falkirk lowly
The Oxfam survey ranked Falkirk lowly

A new measure of prosperity places Falkirk 25th out of 32 local council areas.

The Oxfam Humankind Index is based on people’s priorities, not standard economic growth, to give a better incitation of poverty.

The charity spoke to 3000 people from across Scotland to work out what is important to them, with a research team at Strathclyde University then working out how well these needs were being met across the country.

Housing and health were top priorities for Scots, followed by a clean neighbourhood where people enjoy going outside.

Falkirk was placed 25th, with East Ayrshire coming in last and Shetland topping the poll as the most prosperous place to live.

Oxfam has challenged local councillors to take on board their findings and use them to make their areas places people want to live.

SNP councillor David Alexander said the results didn’t surprise him.

He said: “Around 2004 My Future’s in Falkirk was put in place by the SNP administration within Falkirk Council. Early successes took the rate of unemployment in Falkirk to below both the UK and Scottish levels for the first time in many years.

“It is now back above both rates indicating a failure on the part of the Labour and Tory coalition to recognise the importance of economic development.

“The problem of extreme poverty can only get worse with the Tory-led Westminster Government’s cuts in benefits, cuts Falkirk Council will not campaign against due to the alliance that exists between Labour and the Tories within the council.”

However, Councillor Craig Martin, leader of the council, points out the data figures are relatively low and said lack of investment from the Scottish Government was crippling Falkirk.

“It is very difficult to comment on an index with such a small amount of information.

“But the detailed Fairer Falkirk Strategy that become policy in 2011 provided information on Falkirk, including poverty amongst children. It became apparent that since the 2008 global recession the economy of not just Falkirk but the UK as a whole has completely changed and the impact that is having in our communities.

“The Scottish Government needs to start addressing these issues, since they came to power Scotland as a whole, including Falkirk, is suffering with no investment and no increase in jobs - the most important factors to changing individuals financial positions.”