by a Newsnet reporter
The Tories economic medicine was sent reeling as UK unemployment rose to 7.9 % to 2.49 million following the April to June figures and is the highest for 23 years according to the Office for National Statistics(ONS).
The ONS also says that Consumer Prices Index inflation accelerated to 4.4% in July from 4.2% in June, this may well be accentuated due to energy price increases which will push the figure up towards 5%.
The principle energy providers have all announced a price hike, following Scottish and Southern Energy, Scottish Power, British Gas and E.ON.
The unemployment situation is certain to grow worse as Chancellor George Osborne makes severe public sector spending cuts – leading to hundreds of thousands more job losses.
The Chancellor is hoping the private sector will provide employment but recent figures showing sluggish growth of 0.2% in the second quarter and the number of people unemployed for up to six months increased by 66,000 over the quarter to reach 1.23 million – the largest quarterly increase in two years – raising doubts there is any recovery at all. In fact, large companies, including the biggest U.K. banks are intending cutting thousands of UK jobs in the months to come.
Mr Osborne admitted the unemployment figures were ‘disappointing’.
By contrast, Scotland’s unemployment rose 1000; a lower increase compared to the UK’s 37,000 and at 7.7% – Scottish unemployment is below the overall UK rate which stands at 7.9%.
First Minister Alex Salmond has published a three-point action plan for job creation in Scotland which contrasts visibly with Osborne’s approach. Mr Salmond’s plan involves: a) increased capital investment, b) access to finance and c) measures to boost economic security and consumer confidence.
The First Minister said: “Scotland has lower unemployment, higher employment and lower economic inactivity rates than the UK as a whole – which indicates that the measures the Scottish Government is taking to strengthen recovery and boost economic inactivity are working.
“But the rise in unemployment and the claimant count shows that more needs to be done in the key areas of capital investment, access to finance and measures to boost economic security.
“While unemployment in Scotland fell by 15,000 over the year to June – against an increase of 32,000 across the UK – the latest figures show that there are absolutely no grounds for complacency.
“Uncertainty surrounding the global economic outlook means that we cannot rely on external factors to boost our economy, and we are setting out the action needed from the UK Government to boost recovery.
“The priorities are increased capital investment to boost economic activity, access to finance to help small and medium-sized businesses, and measures to boost consumer confidence and economic security.”
The unemployment figures for the UK regions and Scotland between April and June (these figures naturally exclude an 83,000 increase to 1.26 million on the quarter of people not in full-time employment because they could not find a full-time job – the highest figure since realistic records began in 1992) :
- North East 126,000 minus 4,000 10.0%
- North West 300,000 plus 35,000 8.8%
- Yorkshire/Humber 223,000 minus 21,000 8.5%
- East Midlands 187,000 plus 10,000 8.0%
- West Midlands 224,000 minus 30,000 8.5%
- East 197,000 plus 10,000 6.5%
- London 406,000 plus 22,000 9.5%
- South East 260,000 plus 5,000 5.8%
- South West 175,000 minus 1,000 6.6%
- Wales 122,000 plus 10,000 8.4%
- Scotland 209,000 plus 1,000 7.7%
- N Ireland 63,000 plus 2,000 7.3%