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Thursday, 23 September 2010

Scotland's jobless hits new high

The number of jobless people in Scotland has soared to its highest level since the mid-1990s, according to new research published on Wednesday.

And in Glasgow City the number of adults on out-of-work benefits hit a worrying 24 per cent.

Across the country those figures grew by 1.4 per cent between November 2007 and November 2009, revealing a slightly worse picture than in England - despite faring better before the recession kicked in.

Following some years of progress on child poverty, the number of children in low-income households rose by 2 per cent in the last year of the recession.

Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland (CPAGS) said this must serve as "a wake-up call to both Holyrood and Westminster."

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said Holyrood would be better able to tackle inequalities once full control of tax and benefits had been taken from London.

"In the meantime, we are continuing to press the UK government on its plans to change the welfare system so that the poorest families get the help they need," she said.

Communist Party of Britain Scottish committee member John Foster said the report highlighted the "extreme vulnerability of the Scottish economy."

And while he accepted that Westminster was responsible for benefits, he pointed to GMB research revealing that Holyrood had cut 20,000 jobs out of the 150,000 already announced by the Con-Dem coalition.

"This crisis demands a united response from all Scottish parliamentary parties and the trade union movement.

"The kind of response seen earlier this month when the future of the aircraft carriers was at risk."

CPAGS head John Dickie said the previous investment increases in benefits and child tax credits to decreases in child poverty, but the recent lack of investment threatened to undermine those gains.

He expressed concern that the benefits of past economic growth had not reached the poorest and called for a "fundamentally rethink" of how to tackle the underlying factors of child poverty.

He called on Holyrood to promote a living wage, particularly in the public sector, and see that its commitments to provide free school meals for all children in the first three years of education and to providing grants for uniforms were fairly and consistently distributed.

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