WORKERS and employers across East Renfrewshire must be given help to take up new opportunities as quickly as possible as unemployment rates soar in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

That’s the view of Kirsten Oswald, who says people locally are rightly concerned about the economy after the pandemic’s devastating effect on jobs.

Ms Oswald, the SNP MP for East Renfrewshire, was speaking after the latest figures showed that the claimant count in the area in May stood at 2,300 – up by 167 per cent compared to the same month last year.

Scotland’s unemployment rate is now the highest among all the UK nations, according to official figures the Office for National Statistics.
Ms Oswald said: “People locally are rightly concerned about the economy after the pandemic, so it is vital that we prevent a second spike in the virus and carefully move back to a fully open economy.

“It is clear we are not going back to where we were, and must plan and deliver a positive new normal. 

“The UK Government must not retreat into austerity as it did so disastrously after 2008, but must help local businesses and workers take up new opportunities as quickly as possible.”

At Holyrood, Business Minister Jamie Hepburn said the unemployment statistics show the scale of the challenge facing communities as a result of coronavirus.

He added: “I know that many people will be feeling a deep sense of anxiety about their livelihoods.

“Keeping people in work while supporting those who have lost their jobs will continue to be at the heart of our thinking as we carefully reopen the economy.”

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said the impact of coronavirus will continue “for some time.”

He added: “The UK Government is providing comprehensive coronavirus support packages to help people get through this unprecedented pandemic.”

Meanwhile, Dr Stuart McIntyre, head of research at economic think tank the Fraser of Allander Institute, expects “much more substantial increases in unemployment” in the months to come.

And he warned that those who become unemployed through this period will experience a “very challenging economy in which to find new work.”