Unemployment levels in Scotland have increased considerably in recent months, with around 120,000 people across the country believed to have lost their jobs during the coronavirus crisis.
Worryingly, further job losses are likely in the coming months with close to 750,000 Scots having been furloughed by their employers and had their wages temporarily covered by the UK government.
Rises in unemployment are expected to lead to increases in personal debt problems, poverty and homelessness.
Scotland’s headline rate of unemployment among people aged over 16 is being put at 4.3 per cent by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
The figure of 120,000 newly unemployed Scots refers to the period between March and May, during which time the country was enter into a strict lockdown in response to Covid-19.
Scotland’s lockdown is being gradually eased but there are expectations that more people across the country will lose their jobs in the coming months as the UK government’s furlough scheme is tapered off and ended on October 31st.
Around 650,000 jobs are believed to have been lost across the UK as a whole between March and June.
Charities and thinktanks have been warning policymakers that there are huge challenges ahead for the country and for the governments in both Edinburgh and London.
It’s clear that the phasing out of the furlough scheme will leave many thousands of people facing the prospect of losing their jobs, which for many will result in real financial hardship.
“It is now clear that we are heading for an intense period of high unemployment,” said Sara Willcocks from the anti-poverty charity Turn2Us.
“Without intervention this will lead to mass personal debt, rising homelessness and increasing numbers of families going hungry.
“We urge the DWP to increase social security spending, eliminate the five week wait for Universal Credit and ensure that benefit conditionality is flexible to claimant’s needs and opportunities in their area.”
The Scottish government has called for an extension of the UK government’s Job Retention Scheme beyond the end of October, particularly for the travel, tourism and hospitality sectors which it says “will not have fully recovered” by that time.
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