A lucky escape from recession
The announcement last week that the planned closure of Cambuslang Jobcentre is to be reversed is a victory for local campaigners who fought hard to retain the services locally.
And it will be welcome news for those already struggling to find work, particularly the higher than average numbers of young people who are out of work in Rutherglen and Hamilton West.
Unfortunately many of the closures next door in Glasgow and across the country will still go ahead as planned, making it harder for those who with the least to access vital support tells you everything you need to know about this Conservative Government.
Listening to the Tory work and pensions secretary last week, it seems we should all be grateful for this “more efficient service” that will move job centres further away but continue to sanction those who fail to make appointments in search of jobs that are often low paid and insecure thanks, in part, to Conservative stewardship of the economy.
Thankfully, new GDP figures released last week showed that Scotland’s economy has avoided recession with 0.8 per cent growth in the first quarter of 2017 compared to 0.2 per cent in the UK overall.
This is largely due to a rise in output from industries linked to the North Sea and, although encouraging, it was a narrow escape from recession and with annual average growth being substantially lower than the UK, it is vital the UK and Scottish governments do not become complacent and repeat the mistakes of the past by relying too heavily on the North Sea oil industry for growth.
That is why I welcome Scottish Labour’s radical industrial strategy, published last week, with plans that could grow Scottish GDP by almost £45 billion.
It is a bold, modern blueprint that not only sets out a strategy for delivering a strong economy fit for the future, but that also seeks to put Labour values at the heart of an inclusive economy.
It is a commitment to full employment, a plan for fair pay, protection of workers’ rights, fairer procurement, a genuine work-life balance for people suffering the stress of long working hours, and investment in education, particularly in science, technology, engineering and maths that I hope will ensure young people in Rutherglen and Hamilton West and across the country have the skills they need to compete for the jobs of tomorrow.
There is no doubt that the actions and priorities of the Conservative UK Government creates challenges in the Scottish economy but the SNP Scottish Government has the power to set Scotland on a different path and must not be allowed off the hook.
It is only Labour in the UK and Scotland that has a plan to work cohesively for jobs and economic development and we will continue to put pressure on Scotland’s two governments, making that case for the investment, innovation and the bold change we need to reindustrialise the Scottish economy and make Scotland one of the most productive nations in the western world.
It is vital the UK and Scottish governments do not become complacent
Economic growth But Rutherglen and Hamilton West MP believes there must be less dependance on North Sea oil going forward