Anas Sarwar warns Scotland is facing ‘jobs crisis’ as furlough numbers rise

Anas Sarwar has warned Scotland is facing a “jobs crisis” as furlough numbers continue to rise.

Scottish Labour leadership hopeful Anas Sarwar poses for the media outside Pollokshields Burgh Hall in Glasgow. Picture date: Tuesday January 19, 2021.

The Scottish Labour leadership candidate said Scotland was facing a jobs crisis as new analysis reveals a 45 per cent rise in Scots on furlough.

New figures show 282,800 people in Scotland were furloughed as of December 31, up from 195,200 at the end of October.

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The figures mean around 11 per cent of Scotland’s eligible workers are now furloughed, including 146,500 women and 136,300 men.

Calling for action, the MSP said: “These furlough figures provide a stark picture of the many thousands of Scots anxiously wondering when and if they can return to work – yet all Nicola Sturgeon and Boris Johnson can do is squabble.

“As part of the UK, Scotland has benefited from the job retention scheme, but we need our governments to work together on what comes next.

“As high street chains collapse and industries like aviation grind to a halt, we need more than promises of a brighter future to get us through.

“We need a real jobs plan – now – to support industries that are suffering and ensure we have a recovery that prioritises jobs and tackles poverty, not a divisive independence referendum.”

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Areas with above-average levels of furloughed workers include Glasgow, Perth and Kinross, South Ayrshire and Stirling.

Mr Sarwar has announced proposals for a Business Restart Fund for small businesses and sectors shut down during the pandemic, as well as a National Training Fund offering everyone on Universal Credit help with reskilling for jobs in growing sectors.

He explained: “If elected Scottish Labour leader, I will put forward plans for a National Training Fund and a Business Restart Fund to get workers and businesses back on their feet as quickly as possible, as well as a strong focus on the digital and green jobs of the future.

“We must focus on a Covid recovery – not more division – if we truly want to tackle this growing jobs crisis.”

The Glasgow MSP is running against Monica Lennon, Scottish Labour's health spokesperson, to be the tenth leader of his party since devolution and the creation of the Scottish Parliament, since the unexpected resignation of Richard Leonard last month.

The UK Government has been approached for comment.

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