By a Newsnet reporter
Too many Scots are paying the price for the UK government’s ill-judged economic policies, the SNP said today, as the latest labour market statistics show that the headline unemployment level in Scotland increased by 16,000 in the final three months of last year.
The Scottish unemployment rate has risen to 8.6%, compared to a UK-wide rate of 8.4% per cent. However this figure is skewed by employment statistics being healthier in the South East of England. Although higher than the UK average, unemployment in Scotland remains lower than in most other nations and regions of the UK. The Scottish employment rate also remains higher and economic inactivity rate lower than the UK as a whole.
The figures display a growing gulf in employment opportunities between north and south, with the South East of England continuing to do better than Scotland and the North of England.
According to a recent survey of 1,000 employers by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), almost one third of private sector firms are considering redundancies in the coming months. This is a greater proportion than the end of last year, when only one in four private companies forecast redundancies.
Employment prospects are brightening in London and the south east but they remain poor elsewhere in the UK. The survey found that employment prospects in the private sector in London and the South East have improved over the past three months, whereas they have fallen sharply in the North of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The figures are a worrying reminder of the mass unemployment under a Conservative government in the 1980s, when unemployment blighted many communities in the North of England and the Celtic nations, but employment prospects remained relatively healthy in the South East and London.
John Wilson, SNP MSP for Central Scotland (pictured above), said that the numbers of people who are unemployed remains unacceptably high. Mr Wilson, who is the deputy convener of the Scottish Parliament’s Economy Committee, said:
“We face an extremely difficult situation of rising unemployment – in Scotland, as across the UK – yet the Tory-led coalition government’s intransigence continues, despite all the evidence that their economic policies are proving disastrous for growing numbers of ordinary people.
“The SNP Scottish Government is using every economic lever available to it to create jobs, boost investment and build growth and its efforts are borne out by the fact that we still have a higher employment rate than the UK as a whole.
“But all that is put at risk, and more Scots put on the dole queue, by the Westminster government’s insistence on continuing on a path of savage cuts, instead of increasing capital investment and working to help businesses access financial assistance.
“With control of all the economic and financial levers, the Scottish Government could do even more maximise our economic potential, boost competitiveness and create jobs.
“We now urgently need the promised jobs summit of the four finance Ministers to take place, in order to prioritise action for job creation across the UK.”