The closing of the UK government’s furlough scheme in the coming weeks is likely to prompt a notable rise in job losses in Scotland, according to first minister Nicola Sturgeon.
Unemployment rates across Scotland have remained broadly unchanged over the course of the summer but that stability has been attributed in no small part to the effectiveness of the Westminster government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
That scheme was created shortly after the coronavirus crisis began and as businesses across the country were forced to close down but is now due to close at the end of October.
A replacement for the furlough scheme has been established and is set to kick in from November 1st but there are concerns that it will not be enough to prevent a sharp rise in job losses in Scotland and throughout the UK.
Ms Sturgeon has described the existing Job Retention Scheme as being “really important” as a means of keeping unemployment rates stable and raised concerns that its replacement might soon prove “not comprehensive enough”.
“That could lead to a significant rise in unemployment, including in jobs in sectors that, while they may be struggling through Covid, have a good long future,” the first minister said.
“The Scottish government will of course continue to make that case to the UK Government, but just as importantly, we will also continue to provide our own support whenever we have the powers and resources to do so,” she added.
Alister Jack, secretary of state for Scotland within the UK government, said in response: “We are supporting nearly half a million jobs in Scotland through our furlough and self-employed schemes and have committed a further £9 billion to help employers keep workers on.
“We are also investing billions in those looking for work, including our £2 billion Kickstart scheme for young people and doubling the number of work coaches.”
Nonetheless, there is no doubt that huge numbers of Scots are dealing with serious financial problems and hardships because of the Covid-19 pandemic, and many could well lose their jobs this winter because of the ‘second spike’ in the virus.
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