THE Borders has been placed 12th out of Scotland’s 32 local authority areas in its ability to cope with cuts in public spending.
The ranking is revealed in research by the Rural Policy Centre of the Scottish Agricultural College which has produced a so-called “vulnerability index” – an assessment of the resilience, or lack of it, of council areas in dealing with the challenges of the economic downturn.
The report is based on four indicators: the percentage of working age people employed in the public sector – Scottish Borders Council (SBC) ranked 17th – the percentage of working age people receiving Job Seekers Allowance (ranked 23rd), average weekly earnings (ranked 10th) and, most significantly, the percentage of the population not of working age (ranked 4th).
The rankings confirm that the key challenges facing our region relate to low earnings and the high number of people beyond retirement age.
“There are several features of rural Scotland that suggest the impact of the cuts may be greater than in urban Scotland,” says researcher Jane Atterton.
“These include higher prices for food and fuel, the limited supply of affordable housing and a smaller private sector to soak up jobs lost in the public sector.