Jobless drop takes a bump

Dalkeith Job Centre.
Dalkeith Job Centre.

Unemployment rose in Midlothian in June by 15 per cent from the same month last year, but is still down 50 per cent from five years ago.

Last month there were 1010 people in Midlothian claiming benefits, up by 130 compared to the June 2016 figure.

Aileen McBrierty, Department for Work and Pensions customer service leader for East & Midlothian, pointed to the loss of around 100 jobs at Greggs’ Loanhead bakery in May as a possible contributing factor to the rise, which she called a “slight concern”. She hopes this is “just a blip” given the big drop in local unemployment in the past five years, and is optimistic at the impact of the Borders Railway.

She said: “We need to make sure we maximise this opportunity. Edinburgh Airport was a no-go but the Borders Railway links to Edinburgh, and then the trams link to the airport, that’s a phenomenal growth area at the airport, there are always opportunities there.”

Aileen said the introduction of Universal Credit this year, although with “teething problems” setting up claims, has helped to mitigate any issues with zero hours contracts, with benefit claims topped up to compensate for less hours worked, “making work pay”on these contracts.

In Scotland, unemployment has reached a new record low, falling by 1.6 per cent in the last year to 3.8 per cent, below the UK rate of 4.5 per cent. The latest jobless figure for Midlothian, released in March, was 3.6 per cent.