The Chancellor Rishi Sunak is consigning whole sectors of the economy, which generate billions in tax revenue and employ more than a million workers, to the scrap heap. In his winter economic plan the Chancellor failed to mention businesses that are not able to operate, because they are either shut down completely or trading with hugely reduced capacity including: the wedding industry, events and exhibitions, major parts of the night-time economy, festivals, sports venues and theatres.

There was no acknowledgement at all about their plight or the fact that they will be forced to remain fully or mainly closed for the next six months. The vast majority of these jobs are perfectly viable in the long term, and deserve support from government during the period of pandemic restrictions.

New analysis by the Labour Party, using Office of National Statistics employment data, shows that more than a million workers are in these sectors simply dismissed as “unviable” by the government. None of the additional measures announced by the Chancellor last week will assist them.

The government’s Job Support Scheme is only open to those employers who offer their employees at least a third of their usual hours – impossible for those industries still closed.

The scheme is also fundamentally flawed because, for every two members of staff, it is cheaper for a company to bring back one member of staff full-time and fire the other, than to have two workers working part time.

Schemes in other countries have been successful when there have been appropriate levels of financial incentives for businesses to retain workers in viable jobs, for example the German kurzabeit. In contrast, Sunak’s scheme does not provide businesses with adequate support- this could lead to a cliff-edge of redundancies when the Job Retention Bonus expires in January. Labour’s proposal for a Job Recovery Scheme would address that – the scheme would incentivise targeted businesses to bring back more workers part-time, instead of bringing some back full time and letting others go.

Edinburgh and South East Regional Claimant Count August 2020 


  • The Claimant Count (Job Seekers or Universal Credit) in Scotland was 228,005 in August 2020. In February there were 114,605 claimants.
  • Edinburgh Claimant Count up from 18,515 July to 19,095 in August 2020.
  • Year on year change in Edinburgh – 6,375 in August 2019 to 19,095 in August 2020 (+200%)
  • The number of claimants in Edinburgh is now higher than it was at the peak of the financial crash of 2007-2008 and approaching the levels recorded in the housing market crash of the early 1990s.
  • The 16-24 year old claimant count in Edinburgh increased by 208% between February and August but has stabilised over recent months.
  • Over 50s claimant count increased by 127% between February and August 2020 and grew by 5% between July and August.
  • 35,633 Universal Credit Claimants (both seeking and not seeking work) in Edinburgh in August 2020. There were 13,688 in February.


Table 9 Ten Wards with the Greatest Percentage Claimant Count Increase

2018 electoral wards Feb 2020 July 2020 August 2020 Feb-Aug Change
Edinburgh Morningside 150 560 600 300%
East Lothian North Berwick Coastal 85 285 310 265%
Edinburgh Inverleith 220 740 785 257%
Edinburgh Southside/ Newington 230 780 805 250%
Edinburgh Corstorphine/ Murrayfield 120 390 400 233%
Edinburgh Fountainbridge/ Craiglockhart 205 610 620 202%
Edinburgh Colinton/ Fairmilehead 175 505 525 200%
Edinburgh Drum Brae/ Gyle 225 620 670 198%
Edinburgh Leith Walk 550 1,555 1,620 195%
Scottish Borders Leaderdale and Melrose 115 315 330 187%

Source: NOMIS 15/09/2020


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