A real problem?

UNEMPLOYMENT in East Renfrewshire increased by seven per cent in February.

With 971 claiming job seekers allowance, East Renfrewshire politicians have called for action from Westminster and Holyrood.

Jim Murphy MP told The Extra: “It’s crucial that East Ren doesn’t get left behind in economic recovery. There’s also a real worry the Scottish government are too focussed on the independence referendum when people without work need their support.”

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While unemployment has fallen in Scotland and the UK as a whole, Thornliebank has seen unemployment rise by 19 per cent since December. Youth unemployment has also risen — for ages 18-24 — by 6%.

Ken Macintosh added: “The rise in joblessness only goes to emphasise the importance of government and business working together to generate employment opportunities.”

West of Scotland MSP Jackson Carlaw retaliated: “Unemployment increased relentlessly under the last Labour government, is falling by record amounts and is now below the level inherited when Labour were kicked out of office.

“There are now record numbers of people in work and to help young people in particular the coalition is abolishing National Insurance contributions by employers for those under 21. This will make it more attractive still to employ young people.”

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Stewart Maxwell believes Mr Macintosh and Mr Murphy are overstating the problem. The SNP MSP told The Extra: “Scotland has seen the largest increase in employment in nearly seven years.

“It would be a unfair to portray that as anything other than a success, especially as East Renfrewshire’s jobseeker’s allowance claimant rate of 2.3% is one of the lowest in Scotland.”