Call for action as more than 10,000 hunt for work in city

THE number of people claiming unemployment benefit in Edinburgh has fallen slightly – but is still almost 50 per cent higher than 2008.

Last month, there were 10,183 people in the Capital – 3.2 per cent of the population – claiming for help in finding work, down slightly on the November figure of 10,370.

That compares to 6,974 claimants in the same period of the year before.

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The latest statistics were released as it emerged there are now more than 200,000 people out of work across Scotland on the whole, a rise of 9,000 on the previous quarter and 61,000 more than a year ago.

The number of people who are claiming Jobseekers' Allowance nationally also rose to 136,200 during December, 600 more than the previous month and 36,700 higher than the same time in the previous year.

The unemployment rate in Scotland now stands at 7.4 per cent, slightly below the UK rate of 7.8 per cent.

The rise in unemployment comes after figures published last month showed a fall in the number of people who were out of work for the first time since the summer of 2008.

Tory MSP for the Lothians Gavin Brown said: "I'm concerned about the scale of unemployment in Edinburgh. This will hit individuals and families hard.

"The Government should be doing all that it can to prevent people from becoming unemployed and to help people who do lose their jobs.

"Recently we have seen David Cameron announce plans to cut payroll taxes for the smallest companies, allowing small businesses to delay their VAT payments, help for savers and under a Conservative government new businesses would not have to pay employers National Insurance on their first ten employees in their first year."

Scottish secretary Jim Murphy said the increase in the jobless total showed that "there is no room for complacency because our job isn't done yet".

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He said: "Under no circumstances can we afford to let up in our efforts to get Scots back into work."

Grahame Smith, the general secretary of the Scottish Trades Union Congress, said he was "very concerned".

Mr Smith added that cuts in public spending would be "economic masochism".