New figures which show a huge rise in the numbers of people in Dumfries and Galloway applying for benefits are “shocking”, according to South Scotland Labour MSP Colin Smyth.

Figures released today by the Office for National Statistics show that as of April 9, 4,865 people had applied for Universal Credit in the region, a rise of 2,220 on the same period the previous year.

This represents 5.6 per cent of the Dumfries and Galloway’s workforce and is the highest jobless total recorded in the region for 20 years.

Colin Smyth said: “These new figures are shocking and more evidence of the economic tsunami that Covid-19 has unleashed on our communities.

“While there are a number of economic support measures out there, I am once again calling on the UK and Scottish Government, local council and our newly formed enterprise agency to come together and do more to help the many individuals who are suffering during this crisis.

“As lockdown continues, I am getting calls and e-mails on a daily basis from local people who have lost their jobs or who are at risk of unemployment.

“This is first and foremost a health crisis, but it is also an economic crisis and the more our governments can do to assist people during this time, the better.

“I will continue to push for extra support for overlooked businesses and individuals, and I would urge anyone who needs help to get in touch with me by e-mailing or calling my team on 01387 279205.”

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