St Andrews ‘inequality’ gap affecting children
It is one of the most affluent towns in Scotland and one of its streets was recently identified as the most expensive north of the border – and with its fantastic quality of life, it’s one of the most desirable places to live in the UK.
But alongside the hallowed turf of the golf courses and the spires of the university, there exists a considerable amount of hidden poverty in St Andrews – and generally more inequality than most people realise.
The situation has been highlighted by Emma Barton and her husband Paul, both 34, who live in a twobedroom council bungalow with their four daughters, Lexi, 3, Lily, 7, Skye, 9, and Naomi, 11.
With the children sharing one room and her husband registered disabled, she says the family are desperately in need of a larger house.
However, Emma, who is head house keeper at the St Andrews Premier Inn, says the lack of council housing, “over-priced” private tenancies, and dependency on a relatively low single wage mean they are trapped in a state of poverty.
“So many people have been coming into St Andrews, buying properties, doing them up and letting them out to students, that there’s actually no available pickings for people needing a house who actually live in St Andrews,” she said. “St Andrews has this image of golf, the university and £3 million houses. But that description sounds like an alien place for many people.
“It seems like it’s all aimed at tourists and students and they totally forget about people who actually live in the town.”
The Barton family have not used a foodbank.
Emma said: “I’ve thought about it but would rather miss meals. I’d rather leave it for someone who is in dire need.”
But the hardest thing, she said, is telling the children they can’t go on holiday or can’t do extra school activities.
Emma Barton with Naomi, Lily, Lexi and Skye.