Glasgow: Jobless capital of the UK

Picture: Craig Stephen
Picture: Craig Stephen
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GLASGOW has been revealed as the workless capital of the UK, according to a new survey which found one in three households has no-one at home in a job.

The study released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) yesterday found that 30.2 per cent of homes in Scotland’s largest city in 2012 were workless, up from 28.7 per cent a year before.

Glasgow has now overtaken Liverpool as the British city with the highest percentage of workless households. Experts last night blamed a combination of low job vacancies, poor health and high levels of lone parenting for the crisis.

They said “piecemeal” efforts to get the unemployed and those on disability benefits back into work needed to be stepped up to take advantage of any economic revival.

However, UK ministers insisted the overall picture was improving, claiming that the number of workless households across Britain had fallen by nearly half a million since 2010.

Meanwhile, the Scottish Conservatives said that such was the problem, people in unemployment hotspots such as Glasgow should be encouraged to move to parts of Scotland where work was available, such as the prosperous North-east.

The figures, published annually by the ONS, also exposed the huge disparity in the labour market in different parts of Scotland, with only 12 per cent of households out of work in Aberdeen and Moray.

That contrasted not just with Glasgow but many other parts of west-central Scotland, such as North Ayrshire, where 28 per cent of homes had no-one working, and Inverclyde, where the figure was 25 per cent.

The blight of de-industrialisation was a common thread across Britain, linking areas with high levels of workless households, the ONS study found.

The year 2012 was the ninth consecutive year – since records began – that Glasgow and Liverpool were in the top five workless areas, with other English cities such as Hull, Birmingham and Wolverhampton also facing major problems.

For Scotland as a whole, the most common reason for workless households was sickness or disability, accounting for 33 per cent of all cases. This was higher than figures for England, where sickness was blamed for 27 per cent of all cases.

Unemployment accounted for one in five workless households, while other reasons included being retired, studying or looking after a family member.

At the other end of the scale, as well as the North-east of Scotland, only about one in ten households in Home Counties areas – such as Buckinghamshire, West Sussex and Surrey – was workless.

The focus will fall once again on Glasgow’s continuing problems which remain despite tens of millions of pounds being spent on employment initiatives over recent years by the council, and the UK and Scottish governments.

Jim McCormick, adviser to the social research charity Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said the high incidence of worklessness was due to a range of factors.

“Once you take into account the high levels of low-skilled people, of lone parents and disabled people, it starts to explain a big part of the worklessness story,” he said.

The ONS report concluded: “The common link among some of the areas with the highest percentage of workless households is that they were all heavily industrialised in the last century.

“Glasgow was once a major force in shipbuilding as well as other engineering but competition overseas has seen that decline since the 1960s.”

However, a Glasgow City Council spokesman last night insisted that the city’s figures were inflated by the large number of students in the city – who are counted as workless.

He added: “Glasgow continues to attract high levels of investment, as witnessed by the number of major office developments currently under way in the city centre, and we are confident that our economy – now so much more diverse than in the past – will grow in strength in the near future.”

But the Scots Tories suggested last night that it was time to move people to where jobs were more plentiful. Tory MSP Alex Johnstone said: “Some parts of Scotland have the lowest unemployment rates in the whole UK.

“The Scottish Government needs to be doing much more to encourage labour mobility to ensure that the more buoyant areas of Scotland’s economy can access the swathes of people who aren’t currently employed.”

SNP finance secretary John Swinney pointed to the national picture last night to claim that Scotland as a whole had a higher rate of households in work than the rest of the UK.

In total, 54.1 per cent of households in Scotland were classified as “working households” compared to 53 per cent in the UK.

He said: “We are investing in Glasgow – this year alone over £3 million has been committed to helping young people find work. The Commonwealth Games will also provide opportunities in the east end of Glasgow with 1,300 places for people to participate in jobs schemes.”

The UK’s employment minister, Mark Hoban, said: “Nationally, the number of workless households has fallen by more than 425,000 since the coalition took office. This is good news, but we know there are areas where we need to do more.”

Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie said: “It’s a depressing but familiar fact that so many are out of work. Rebuilding the economy to create jobs, reforming the welfare system and cutting tax for low incomes to help make work pay and improving educational opportunities are steps the UK government is taking to help people into work.”

Case study: ‘You just get used to it and you get into a rut’

Elaine McGready, 54, lives in the Parkhead area of Glasgow with two of her grown-up children – Donna, 30, who had worked in a butcher’s and as a cleaner, and Brian, 25, who had been a hotel chef.

Mrs McGready is a widow, who has been unemployed for 20 years and suffers from arthritis, while her children have both been out of work for two years.

“It’s just the economy, the ways things have gone. Brian left school at 16, and he went in and learned on the job at a hotel before he lost his job. It’s been hard for him to get back in because now you’ve got to have all these qualifications, whereas he was picking it up all in situ. But all the experience seems to count for nothing nowadays, they just want certificates from courses.

“At first he hated being unemployed, but then you just get used to it and you get into a rut. But both my children are willing to work. They’re being sent on courses, but I don’t think such things are applicable for the likes of being a chef. It’s more about filling in your CV.

“It’s hard on a day-to-day basis, because we’re all getting under each other’s feet.

“I worked in a factory before stopping to have my family, but there’s no call for those skills nowadays. I’ve loads of knowledge and practical life skills, but nothing I can use to apply for a job.

“I’m not hopeful for myself when it comes to finding a job, but I hope something will come along for the kids.

“The job centre sent me on various courses and I enjoy them as they bring me out of myself, but once you’ve done it, it’s back to the same old routine. They’re no use if there are no jobs, and their standards are so high in terms of what they want from people.”


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