Surge in women joining the dole

Claire Baker MSP
Claire Baker MSP

MID Scotland and Fife MSP Claire Baker has called on the Scottish Government to do more to address the rising number of women unemployed in north east Fife.

The most recent statistics, from February 2012, showed women claiming jobseekers allowance in the area increased by almost a quarter from the same time 12 months previously.

In February 2011 there were 289 women aged from 16-64 claiming the benefit in comparison with 359 in February 2012.

The figure for men has only risen by eight, the equivalent of just one per cent.

Ms Baker raised the issue in Parliament with John Swinney, Cabinet Secretary for employment, but was less than impressed with the response she received.

Mr Swinney highlighted that investment in Fife had resulted in the planned creation of 1072 new jobs and safeguarded 69 jobs and that regional selective assistance offers were also expected to create or safeguard 1507 jobs.

However, he admitted concern over the possibility of wage rates decreasing in areas such as north east Fife, to ensure they can be inflated in the south-east of England.

Speaking afterwards Ms Baker, said: “I was disappointed by the response from the Cabinet Secretary.

“The Scottish Government may seek to blame unemployment on the UK Government, and its policies are certainly not helping, but there is much the Scottish Government could do to address the barriers women face to employment, such as affordable transport, accessible and affordable childcare, and access to training opportunities.

“The cuts in the college sector impacting on Elmwood College, the increase in bus fares but reductions in service and the lack of affordable childcare are all the responsibility of the Scottish Government and are damaging the employment prospects of women.”