Lothian hit by surge in unemployed women

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The Lothians have seen one of the biggest increases in female unemployment in Scotland since the recession began.

In Edinburgh, the number of women claiming out-of-work benefit rose by 163.5 per cent between 2008 and this year – twice the rise in male claimants over the same period.

In East Lothian, female unemployment increased by a massive 273.3 per cent, a figure only surpassed in East Renfrewshire, which recorded a 274.8 per cent rise.

The figures were revealed on the eve of a summit in the Capital tomorrow, to be attended by First Minister Alex Salmond, on the problem of female unemployment.

Edinburgh and the Lothians witnessed a much steeper rise in women’s unemployment than total Scottish and UK unemployment and total Scottish and UK female ­unemployment.

Stephen Boyd, assistant secretary at the Scottish Trades Union Congress, said it was difficult to explain why unemployment among women had risen so much more in the Edinburgh area. But he said one factor could be the large number of public sector jobs in the Capital – around two-thirds of the public sector workforce is female – as well as the importance of the financial and retail sectors.

Mr Boyd added: “We know women are suffering particularly badly from public sector job losses. The retail sector was a big employer for females and that has taken a big hit. And in the financial sector, although women are not well represented in the upper echelons, in terms of call centre work it was a big employer too.

“For women who lose their job in any of these sectors, there is no growth and therefore the job opportunities that were once there are not there any more.”

He said tomorrow’s summit at Our Dynamic Earth would look at what could be done to improve women’s chances of employment.

Mr Boyd added: “The most important thing is for the UK Government to revisit its economic strategy, which is just stripping jobs out of the economy at the worst time.

“There is very little the Scottish Government can do to turn the situation round tomorrow, but in the longer term it can do a lot through schools the education system, careers advice and working with the industrial sectors to ensure that some of the jobs in areas which will grow, such as renewable energy, do provide job opportunities for women.

“Edinburgh is hopefully going to become something of a hub for renewable energy. Are women going to benefit from that?”

Lothians MSP Kezia Dugdale, who is Labour’s spokeswoman on youth employment, said female unemployment was directly linked to child poverty.

She said: “When Labour was in power, child poverty went down for the first few years because women’s employment was going up. When women fall out of jobs, kids fall into poverty. Part of any child poverty strategy has to be getting women into work.”

Youth Employment Minister Angela Constance said women were central to Scotland’s future growth. “The summit will focus on identifying positive steps that public sector bodies, employers, trade unions, other partners and women themselves can take to ensure that women can make their full contribution to Scotland’s economic recovery.”

£1 million lottery boost

Three Edinburgh groups are sharing in Lottery good cause funding worth more than £1 million.

Teenagers with additional support needs, older people and their carers and women who want to find work are to benefit from three awards from the Big Lottery Fund worth £1,278,081.

Sleep Scotland’s TEENS+ project has been awarded £328,127 to fund a Speech and Language Therapist and an Education Worker to help young people.

Thanks to a grant of £536,015, the Prestonfield and District Neighbourhood Workers Project will be able to provide additional support for older people and their carers.

And Sikh Sanjog’s Pathways to Employment project receives £413,939 to give women from ethnic minority groups the confidence, knowledge and skills to enter the job market.

Big Lottery Fund Scotland Chair, Maureen McGinn, said: “Each of today’s funded projects will support some of the hardest to reach and most vulnerable people across the city.”

£536,015, the Prestonfield and District Neighbourhood Workers Project will be able to provide additional support for older people and their carers.

And Sikh Sanjog’s Pathways to Employment project receives £413,939 to give women from ethnic minority groups the confidence, knowledge and skills to enter the job market.

Big Lottery Fund Scotland Chair, Maureen McGinn, said: “Each of today’s funded projects will support some of the hardest to reach and most vulnerable people across the city.”