RISING UK UNEMPLOYMENT MUST BE A “WAKE UP CALL” FOR TORY GOVERNMENT

The SNP has said the Tory government must extend the furlough scheme and “plug the gaps” in support for those left behind – as new figures reveal UK unemployment has risen again to 5%, with redundancies at a record high.

The latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) labour market survey, published this morning, reveals a large increase in the UK unemployment rate at 5% (+0.6% on the quarter), UK redundancies at a record high of 14.2 per thousand (+6 per thousand on the quarter), and the UK employment rate falling to 75.2% – with over 800,000 fewer people in employment in December than February 2020.

Alison Thewliss MP said the Chancellor “must not repeat the same mistakes all over again” and called for an urgent extension to the furlough scheme to avoid a cliff edge, a package of support for the 3million excluded, and a U-turn on Tory plans to cut Universal Credit and freeze public sector pay.

The SNP Shadow Chancellor said the long-term damage of Boris Johnson’s hard Brexit deal, on top of covid-19, meant it was crucial that the UK government stimulates the economy with a fiscal package of at least £98billion “to protect jobs, boost incomes and support public services.”

Commenting, SNP Shadow Chancellor Alison Thewliss MP said:

“The sharp rise in UK unemployment and redundancies must be an urgent wake up call for the Tory government – who have left millions behind during the coronavirus pandemic.

“The Chancellor must not repeat the same mistakes all over again. It is crucial that he moves quickly to plug the gaps in support and extend the furlough scheme to prevent a cliff edge.

“The long-term damage of a hard Brexit will make the Tory unemployment crisis even worse – so it is crucial that the UK government introduces a major fiscal stimulus of at least £98billion, on a par with other countries, to protect jobs, boost incomes and support our public services.

“This must include a package of support for the 3million excluded, a U-turn on Tory plans to cut Universal Credit and freeze public sector pay, and more grant and flexible loan support for businesses – including the missing £375million that was promised to Scottish firms before the UK government backtracked.

“By imposing a hard Brexit, withholding investment and blocking the devolution of financial powers, the Tories are threatening Scotland’s recovery and could cause a protracted downturn that will leave scars on communities.

“Scotland shouldn’t have to wait for Westminster to act. It is clearer than ever that the only way to secure a strong, fair and equal recovery is to become an independent country – with the full powers required to build a fairer society.”

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