Un­em­ploy­ment fall­ing in area

But in-work homes still fight poverty

Rutherglen Reformer - - News - Edel Ke­nealy

Un­em­ploy­ment in Ruther­glen and Cam­bus­lang has dropped 16.5 per cent since the in­tro­duc­tion of Uni­ver­sal Credit one year ago.

Statis­tics, re­leased on the first an­niver­sary of the shake- up of the wel­fare sys­tem, show 885 peo­ple in the two towns are cur­rently un­em­ployed - 175 fewer than in Au­gust 2015.

But anti-poverty cam­paign­ers say em­ploy­ment is no-longer a route out of poverty as the num­ber of strug­gling in-work house­holds con­tin­ues to soar.

In Ruther­glen un­em­ploy­ment fell by 135 in the past 12 months, whilst Cam­bus­lang recorded a drop of just 35.

Across the two towns un­em­ploy­ment dropped from 1,060 in Au­gust 2015 to 886 in Au­gust 2016.

The area ac­counts for 18.4 per cent of all un­em­ployed peo­ple in South La­nark­shire.

The fall in un­em­ploy­ment has been wel­comed by Mar­garet Fer­rier, MP for Ruther­glen and Cam­bus­lang.

How­ever, she says that more needs to be done to ad­dress poverty crip­pling both those in work and on wel­fare ben­e­fits. Ms Fer­rier said: “Though en­cour­ag­ing, higher em­ploy­ment lev­els are just one step in the right di­rec­tion to­wards tack­ling poverty.

“Many peo­ple are still just one pay cheque away from a cri­sis - a sit­u­a­tion that could get worse as we face the prospect of higher liv­ing costs as a re­sult of the UK leav­ing the EU.

“The Trus­sell Trust re­cently opened their 50th food­bank in Scot­land.

“This shows the grim re­al­ity of Tory aus­ter­ity and wel­fare cuts, which takes funds away from pub­lic ser­vices, com­mu­ni­ties and fam­i­lies, the poor­est and most vul­ner­a­ble in or­der to fund tax breaks for mil­lion­aires – a pol­icy com­pletely in­com­pat­i­ble with Scot­land’s pro­gres­sive val­ues and out­look.”

Sharon Hamp­son, man­ager of Cam­bus­lang’s Ci­ti­zen’s Ad­vice Bu­reau, said her or­gan­i­sa­tion has seen a huge in­crease in hard­ship for peo­ple who are work­ing.

She said: “From April to the be­gin­ning of Septem­ber the num­ber of peo­ple com­ing to see us about work­ing tax cred­its and coun­cil tax cred­its rose by 90 per cent.

“In the same pe­riod we saw a 21 per cent in­crease in food bank re­fer­rals.

“This isn’t just peo­ple out of work. We are talk­ing about work­ing fam­i­lies with full time jobs and salaries but with rent or mort­gages to pay.”

Uni­ver­sal Credit has been grad­u­ally rolled out to com­mu­ni­ties across the UK and will even­tu­ally re­place six ben­e­fits for peo­ple out of work or on a low in­come.

It sees a per­son’s ben­e­fits, such as Job Seeker’s Al­lowance, hous­ing ben­e­fit and child tax cred­its, com­bined into one monthly pay­ment.

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