Latest figures from the Office of National Statistics have revealed unemployment rates in Dumfries and Galloway have increased 97 per cent in a year, from 2,605 in May 2019 to 5,130 in May 2020.

The numbers of people claiming out of work benefits are now at the highest level since August 1996. May’s figures represent 5.9 per cent of the Dumfries and Galloway’s population aged 16-64, compared to 3 per cent in May 2019.

Colin Smyth said: “These new figures are shocking and more evidence of the economic tsunamis that Covid-19 has unleashed on Dumfries and Galloway’s communities.

“Unfortunately, unless the Scottish and UK Governments and our newly formed enterprise agency come together and take serious action very soon, these figures will only get worse.

“We can’t forget that behind these figures represents a person who is now struggling to pay for the essentials they and their families need to survive.

“As we move slowly out of lockdown, the number of calls and e-mails I receive on a daily basis from local people who have lost their jobs or who are at risk of unemployment is rising. When the UK Government’s furlough scheme comes to an end, unemployment will rise further.

“This pandemic is a serious economic crisis for our region and the more our governments and the more our new enterprise agency 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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