With Edinburgh facing a jobs crisis, we need a business summit to plot path to recovery – John McLellan

Edinburgh Council’s new Edinburgh Economy Watch report paints a stark picture of the jobs crisis facing the city, and the slow emergence from lockdown does little to give much hope that a return to anything like normality will be swift.

Wednesday, 7th April 2021, 4:45 pm
The number of construction jobs in Edinburgh has fallen dramatically since the pandemic struck (Picture: Paul Ellis/AFP via Getty Images)

Construction jobs have fallen 40 per cent, 12,000 jobs had gone in retail, accommodation, and food services by September 2020, and even finance lost around 1500 posts.

A month ago, 39,000 Edinburgh people were furloughed on the UK Job Retention Scheme, a rise of 53 per cent from September to 16 per cent of all jobs, making the city one of the most reliant on the programme because of the size of sectors hit the hardest by lockdown. A further 13,100 Edinburgh people are supported by the self-employment scheme.

Meanwhile, at 18,500, the unemployment claimant count grew faster than the Scottish and UK averages, up 5.1 per cent, and the number of people claiming Universal Credit increased by 25,000 to 38,311, a bigger increase than most comparable UK cities.

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Yet there does not seem to be a recovery plan to which the whole city is signed up. The extent of it seems to be closing off George Street for more outdoor eating; fine for George Street businesses but it does nothing for anywhere else, and a lot is hanging on the St James Centre opening on June 24.

A summit of leaders from the tourism, retail, hospitality, construction, education sectors would be a starting point. I guess that’s the council’s job.

John McLellan is a Conservative councillor for Craigentinny/Duddingston

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