Scots long-term jobless level rising fastest, says TUC

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Image caption The number of people in Scotland out of work for at least a year is rising faster than elsewhere in the UK

About 26,000 people in Scotland will spend their second consecutive Christmas on the dole this year, according to a study.

The TUC said research showed the number of people out of work for at least 12 months was rising faster in Scotland than in any other region of the UK.

Eight out of the 10 UK local authority areas with the largest increases in long-term unemployment are in Scotland.

The STUC urged all levels of government to work to boost the jobs market.

Scotland's Finance Secretary John Swinney told BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme that the STUC had indicated that "essentially the Scottish labour market was catching up with the UK labour market".

He added: "I think the reason why that is the case, why there has been delay within the labour market in Scotland, is the fact that we went to such efforts to ensure that there was substantial public sector investment in the economy at a time when the UK government was cutting expenditure, we refused to do that."

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Media captionJohn Swinney: "Why there has been a delay within the labour market in Scotland is the fact that we went to such efforts to ensure that there was substantial public sector investment."

The number of Scots spending Christmas on the dole has soared by almost a third to 26,270, compared with last year's figure of 20,470.

A person is officially long-term unemployed if they have claimed jobseeker's allowance for more than a year.

The long-term claimant number in Scotland has risen 170% since 2007 when 9,745 people were out of work for more than a year, according to the data analysis from the Trades Union Congress.

Grahame Smith, STUC general secretary, said the figures reflected a "crisis" in the Scottish labour market.

He said: "Following last week's ONS (Office for National Statistics) release which confirmed that the Scottish unemployment rate is now higher than the rest of the UK, we now learn that long-term unemployment is rising faster in Scotland than anywhere else in the UK.

"It is totally unacceptable that over 26,000 Scots are facing at least their second Christmas on the dole.

"The STUC will next week publish figures to suggest that even these shocking statistics underplay the extent of the crisis. It is absolutely essential that government at all levels redoubles its efforts to boost jobs and growth in the New Year."

He added: "Another 12 months of complacency will leave Scotland with a legacy of persistent, structural unemployment with all its associated human, social and financial costs."

Commenting on the STUC figures, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said they were a reminder of the "scale of the problem".

He added: "The endless debate over whether Scotland is ahead, behind, up or down compared with the UK on unemployment rates doesn't help people get back to work. People want to see a plan of action so we need to focus on what we can do in Scotland to help."

In response to the report, Labour's Ken Macintosh believed Scotland was facing the prospect of an unemployment crisis.

He said: "Behind every statistic, there is a person suffering the indignity of being out of work and a family losing their income.

"Unemployment is now higher than the rest of the UK, youth unemployment is at the highest level for a generation, and the Scottish economy is growing even more slowly than south of the border.

"The Scottish government has been telling us for months that its economic policy is working, but this looks more unconvincing by the day."

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