Alister Jack responds to March Labour Market Statistics

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said:

Today marks one year since the UK went into lockdown, and we know that the pandemic has had a significant impact on the labour market.

These figures show the scale of the challenge we face to rebuild our economy – and throws into sharp relief just how irresponsible it is of the Scottish Government to prioritise planning for an independence referendum over securing our economic recovery. We need to focus on creating and protecting jobs.

Over the past year, the UK Government has taken decisive action to support jobs and livelihoods across the whole of the UK. In the 2021 Budget, we pledged to take these measures further – extending furlough, self-employed schemes, the Universal Credit uplift and VAT cuts for the hardest hit sectors. We have committed to provide the Scottish Government with an additional £14 billion since the start of the pandemic.

As the success of the UK Government-funded vaccine programme allows us to plan for the gradual re-opening of our economy, the strength and stability provided by the Union has never been more important.

Background

  • The UK Government’s furlough scheme has been extended until the end of September 2021, paying up to 80 percent of wages. The self-employed support scheme has also been extended to the end of September 2021 with eligibility extended to 600,000. So far these schemes have supported more than 930,000 jobs in Scotland.
  • Around 100,000 Scots are thought to have lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic, while a further 400,000 – about a fifth of the workforce – continue to be supported by the UK Government’s furlough scheme, which is why we need to focus on creating and protecting jobs.
  • More than 90,000 businesses in Scotland have been supported from UK Government business loans worth £3.4 billion.
  • The UK Government is investing billions to help people of all ages back into work, including our £2 billion Kickstart scheme for young people, sector work programmes and recruitment of thousands of additional Work Coaches.
  • The UK Government has provided billions in extra funding for the welfare system for those unable to access other forms of support. This includes £20 Universal Credit uplift which has also been extended until the end of September 2021.
  • This support is on top of over £14 billion in additional funding for the Scottish Government since the start of the pandemic.
  • The UK Government continues to provide the bulk of covid testing in Scotland and has moved quickly to buy vaccines, securing more than 400 million doses from seven vaccine developers for distribution across all parts of the UK.
  • These measures are on top of direct UK Government investment in Scotland’s jobs and economy, including £1.5 billion in growth deals across Scotland and our new Levelling Up, Community Renewal and Community Ownership Funds.
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