THE weekly wage of people living in East Lothian is higher than the UK average. . . as long as they find work outside the county.

A new report has revealed that county residents take home gross weekly earnings of £595, well above the Scottish and UK average.

But it showed that residents who both live and work in East Lothian earn 15 per cent less each week, taking their pay packets well below the national average.

East Lothian Council says the gap in pay reflects the nature of the county’s economy, with many jobs traditionally low paid such as part-time or seasonal roles.

But one community councillor said the problem was “low ambition” and called for East Lothian to learn to compete with Edinburgh rather than providing employees for the Scottish capital.

Calum Miller, who supports the ambitions of Prestonpans Community Council – of which he is a member – for a cruise terminal to be built at the former Cockenzie Power Station site, said: “Increasingly, East Lothian sees itself as an appendage to Edinburgh rather than an independent entity.

“Graduates are almost expected to leave once qualified for a better paid job in Edinburgh or elsewhere. Workers who can’t move have their horizons limited to jobs in the social care sector, manual labour and/or part-time.

“East Lothian needs to learn how to compete again with Edinburgh and pull employers here rather than push employees into the city.

“To do that, the infrastructure needs to take a big leap forward; housing needs to be cheaper and more accessible, fibre broadband needs to enter houses and businesses directly, and East Lothian Council needs to allocate land for enterprise plus foster a hunger for new business.”

The community council has produced a brochure outlining its vision for a Port of Prestonpans which it says would bring in new income and employment.

Mr Miller said it was just one of the new ideas which could benefit the county.

He said: “The Port of Prestonpans would not only transform the tourist potential of East Lothian, it would bring in new local companies that we haven’t even imagined.”

The latest report from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) found workers who lived and worked in East Lothian have gross weekly earnings of £517 on average – well below the £595 for residents working outwith the county.

The number of households in the county which are classed as “economically active” is also above the national average, with over 81 per cent of residents employed in some way.

The number of men of working age living in the county who were not employed was considered too low to count by ONS.

East Lothian Council said it was looking at ways to develop the local economy.

A spokesperson said: “This is an indication of high commuting rates out of East Lothian and the nature of the East Lothian economy – eg. rural, hospitality, part-time/seasonal – that tend to pay lower rates. The refreshed East Lothian Economic Development Strategy will outline the context of such differences and consider means of appropriate support for the local economy and workforce.”

The average UK gross weekly wage in 2017 was £552 while the Scottish average was £547.