Jackie Baillie warns of economic devastation caused by pandemic.
By Democrat reporter
Jackie Baillie, MSP for Dumbarton, Vale of Leven, Helensburgh and Lomond, has raised concerns that the economic devastation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic is only just beginning.
This follows the announcement from Rolls-Royce that 9,000 jobs across the UK would be lost, some of which will be in Scotland.
The day before OVO and SSE Energy announced that 2,600 jobs are likely to be lost, the overwhelming majority in customer services across Scotland affecting staff in Glasgow, Cumbernauld, Perth and elsewhere.
Figures from the Office of National Statistics suggest that claims to Universal Credit in Scotland went up by around 67% in April. Scotland’s unemployment rate is now estimated to be at 4.1%. This is higher than the whole UK rate of 3.9%.
Jackie Baillie has repeatedly called for more support for those who have found themselves without work as a result of the pandemic.
Ms Baillie MSP said: “We are only now beginning to see the economic impact that the crisis is having on our country as a whole and on the lives of individuals. The announcement from Rolls-Royce will come as a shock to many in our local community who I know are employed by the company.
“Whether you have been furloughed, made redundant or can’t find work as a self-employed person, the coming months are going to be hugely uncertain.
“The Scottish and UK Governments must reassure workers across the country that they are fully supported. Families are having to deal with the financial fallout from a crisis that they have no control over.
“Our unemployment rate and benefit claimant rate is rising rapidly and immediate action must be taken to protect those that find themselves out of work, and in the long term we need a plan for economic recovery.”
Meanwhile, the MSP says the Scottish Government must consider broadening the eligibility for the Small Business Grant Scheme and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Business Grant Scheme to ensure businesses get the help they need, Scottish Labour said today.
Statistics published this morning have shown that, up to the 19th of May 2020, only around 65,000 of 81,000 applications for business support have been awarded. As such, around one application in every five is not awarded.
With over 16,000 applicants not receiving awards and a fall in the number grants being awarded there is serious cause for concern, and the prospect is raised of small businesses, already faced with the tremendous threat of Covid-19, losing out on much needed government support.
Scottish Labour Deputy Leader and finance spokesperson, Jackie Baillie, said: “Businesses are under unprecedented levels of financial pressure and it is the duty of the Scottish Government to do all within its power to support them through this crisis.
“Unfortunately, today’s statistics suggest that potentially thousands of businesses are missing out on the support they both need and deserve.
“The process of re-building our economy after the pandemic will be an arduous one, but what is clear is that small and medium-sized businesses will play a central role.
“It is time for the Scottish Government to consider broadening the eligibility criteria for support to ensure that every business that needs support, gets it.”