LAST week’s report from the East Lothian Poverty Commission showed a side of our county frequently swept under the rug. East Lothian is often portrayed as a uniformly wealthy county. But the truth is much starker.

As the commission’s report showed, 30 per cent of children in the county are living in poverty, while their struggling parents skip meals to feed their children. Meanwhile, half of all pensioners can’t afford to keep warm and are forced to choose between heating and eating. Particularly disturbing is that 2,806 people received food parcels last year. That’s nearly 3,000 people in East Lothian who would have had nothing to eat had it not been for the intervention of charities and volunteers.

In the year 2017, thousands of people are left to starve by a UK Government more intent on punishing the poor for their own poverty than fixing the economic disaster they have created. This should enrage us all.

So what do we do? The commission’s report contains many recommendations for change, but one in particular caught my eye. As highlighted by last week’s Courier, it advocates the piloting of a “citizen’s wage”.

A citizen’s wage, often known as citizen’s income or a universal basic income, is an idea which has been around on both the left and right of the political spectrum for decades. The idea is that instead of paying benefits, the Government would pay every citizen a basic income to cover the costs of essentials, with additional payments to those with children, disabilities or long-term health conditions.

Most people would still work and pay tax on everything they earn above that basic level, but the fear and insecurity associated with many benefits would disappear, along with the stigma of being a benefits claimant. A citizen’s income, as advocated by Greens, would provide a genuine safety net. It’s an idea whose time has come and which could transform East Lothian for the better.