Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Scary news for Scotland as unemployment figures released

I wrote last month about my concerns about a new north south divide developing after the unemployment figures for Scotland continued to rise while we see a small fall in the rest of the UK.

This month the situation is even worse with a more than 10% rise in the number of Scottish people unemployed between May and July. While the number of jobs filled in that period is up, surely that's can be accounted for by seasonal work and many of these people could find themselves back in the dole queue at the end of the Summer.

Also, if you look at the last year, there are 40,000 fewer jobs than there were a year ago in Scotland.

There has also been a rise in the number of people claiming benefit. I find it hard to see how that's going to fall by much, especially for the very long term unemployed. I mean, if you are an employer, as the public sector cuts fall, who are you going to pick if you are creating jobs - the worker with a proven recent track record, or someone who has never been employed?  I'm not suggesting that we shouldn't try to get people who've been out of work for a long time into work, but surely the optimum time to do that was when the economy was in good shape.  Yet another damning human legacy of Labour's time in office. I absolutely disagree that people should be financially penalised by reduction in benefits just for being unemployed for a long time through no fault of their own.

Scottish Secretary of State Michael Moore is not attempting to hide the scale of the problem, understanding that every single number of the increase represents a household in crisis.

"These figures show the heavy human price that Scotland is paying for the last government's economic incompetence."
"The coalition inherited rising unemployment and a record peacetime deficit, and our challenge is to turn those problems around.
"We are doing that with decisive action to restore our economy and, in turn, help Scotland's men and women to find quality, lasting jobs."

Moore's approach is a change from Labour's "haven't we done well" approach ignoring the disproportionate misery it was creating in Scotland.

I have more faith that a Cabinet with Liberal Democrats in it will understand that it has to act to ensure that any benefits from the economy improving are shared around the country than one which was comprised of Tories alone. We need to show that we are making a difference in terms of targeted action to create decent quality jobs up here.

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