West Dunbartonshire’s MP Martin Docherty-Hughes MP has warned the UK Chancellor that urgent action must be taken to extend the Job Retention Scheme to prevent soaring levels of unemployment.

The SNP MP has spoken out in response to concerns over rising unemployment as new figures released show record numbers of people in West Dunbartonshire claiming for financial support through Universal Credit.

The latest statistics released by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) reveal that the number of Universal Credit claimants across Clydebank, Dumbarton and the Vale has risen to 9,191 – an increase of 78 per cent from March when lockdown was first implemented.

Across the UK there are now more than 5.6 million people claiming support through the Universal Credit welfare system – with 3.2 million new benefit claims processed in the period since the pandemic took hold.

Local MP Martin Docherty-Hughes is calling for the UK government to extend the coronavirus financial support schemes without delay, so that businesses can plan ahead for the coming months and limit any unnecessary job losses.

Martin Docherty-Hughes MP said:

“With each week that passes the stark reality of rising unemployment becomes clearer, yet the UK government seems determined to make things worse by refusing to announce any extension to the jobs retention scheme.

“In West Dunbartonshire alone there has been a 78 per cent increase in people claiming Universal Credit since March. This figure is even higher in many of the other hardest hit parts of the country, demonstrating the serious impact of this crisis on jobs and living standards.

“In the middle of a global pandemic the UK Treasury should be strengthening support for businesses and workers, not scaling it back.

“It’s vital now that the UK Chancellor puts in place the additional financial support required to prevent a return to the soaring levels of unemployment our communities had to go through in the 1980s.

“If Westminster won’t act then it must devolve the economic powers Scotland needs in order to protect jobs and living standards.”