Unemployment support scheme ends this weekend

By Paul Cassidy

Jackie Baillie MSP, pictured right, has warned that furloughed workers face a “harsh winter” due to the end of the employment support scheme on Saturday.

Household incomes for many workers will be substantially cut after furlough comes to an end this weekend.

As of 31 August, 242,600 workers were still furloughed across Scotland, with more women furloughed than men.

In West Dunbartonshire the number of workers on furlough is 3,500 and in Argyll & Bute it is 3,400.

In September 2020, in Scotland there were 224,200 claiming benefits (JSA and UC) , an increase of 1,500 over the month and 112,800 (101.2 per cent) over the year.

Scottish Government analysis projects that unemployment will peak at 8.2% in 2020 Q4, reflecting the assumption that the Job Support Scheme will not be as effective at suppressing unemployment as the furlough scheme.  

Jackie Baillie is calling on the SNP Government to commit now to a jobs guarantee scheme that is fairer, greener and better.

This means:

  • Jobs paid at the trade union rate for the job, and no less than the Real Living Wage, regardless of age.
  • Jobs in growth industries to rebuild our economy and our lives in a responsible and sustainable way.
  • Employment underpinned by childcare provision

Chancellor Rishi Sunak must agree to a furlough scheme targeted specifically at Scotland’s economic needs to protect squeezed incomes, Ms Baillie has added.

Jackie Baillie MSP for Dumbarton, Vale of Leven, Helensburgh & Lomond said:“West Dunbartonshire and Argyll & Bute furloughed workers face a harsh winter period after the end of furlough this weekend. Many of them might not have jobs to go back to.

“Household incomes will take a substantial hit due to the Chancellor’s disastrous decision to end the scheme from Saturday.

“The UK Government’s half-baked replacement scheme is totally inadequate to make up for the substantial loss of furlough money.

“Scotland’s industries from oil and gas, right through to tourism, hospitality and the arts, have been battered during the last seven months.

“There is no sign of any recovery and it’s therefore deeply worrying that despite the sharp rise in infections and tighter restrictions, the Chancellor is letting furlough end today.

“Workers should not have their incomes cutback at this critical time, which is why the Chancellor must agree to calls for a furlough scheme that is targeted specifically at Scotland’s economy and workforce.

“I expect the Scottish and UK Governments to put aside their differences and work together in the interests of the economy and jobs.

“Without doing so, the living standards of hard-pressed local families and those on already squeezed incomes will only get worse as winter starts to bite and households face soaring fuel bills.”

Meanwhile, Jackie Baillie has welcomed the impact of Warmer Homes Scotland on fuel poor households in Dumbarton, Vale of Leven, Helensburgh & Lomond.

Over 200 households across the area have benefited from the scheme’s help since it was launched in 2015, each of them saving around £300 on their energy bills per year.

The £224 million Warmer Homes Scotland scheme provides a step-by-step service to help make homes warmer and more comfortable.

It’s cold tonight and the snow is not far away. Lovely to look at but not if you have no home heating. Pictures by Bill Heaney and Jim Crosthwaite

Assistance can include installing new and efficient boilers, fitting new radiators, insulating lofts or even working with partners to install gas mains to make heating homes in hard to reach areas more affordable.

All work is carried out by registered and accredited local sub-contractors, who work to rigorous quality standards across the country.

Warmworks is the Managing Agent of Warmer Homes Scotland and receives referrals to the scheme from Home Energy Scotland.

Jackie said:“I welcome the impact that Warmer Homes Scotland has made across Dumbarton, Vale of Leven, Helensburgh & Lomond.

“For too many families, living in fuel poverty is a harsh reality and it is great to know that they are now living in warmer, cosier homes with greatly reduced fuel bills.

“I would encourage others to check if they are eligible to receive help under the scheme, as improvements could make a significant difference this winter and for years to come.”

With the Fuel Poverty Targets now enshrined in legislation, the scale of the task to end fuel poverty is now very clear.

While the end goal for the eradication of fuel poverty may be some years away, there is no question that the help available under Warmer Homes Scotland will play a key role in helping people become warmer, happier and healthier in their homes.

Ross Armstrong, Warmworks’ Managing Director said:  “It has always been important to Warmworks that the delivery of Warmer Homes Scotland results in real and lasting benefits for vulnerable people and communities across Scotland.

“I am delighted to have helped over 200 households in Ms Baillie’s constituency and we hope to build on our success as we continue our efforts to move towards greener, fairer and more affordable ways to heat our homes.”

To find out more about Warmer Homes Scotland, or to make an application, you can call Home Energy Scotland free on 0808 808 2282.

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