The number of unemployed young people in Britain has reached an all-time high of 21.3%, according to official figures released today.
The statistics, which were released by the Office of National Statistics (ONS), also reveal that overall unemployment in Britain has reached a 17-year high at 8.1%. Many analysts have criticised the UK government’s deficit reduction plan, and Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Liam Byrne is unconvinced by the coalition’s strategies. “[This is] a day of judgment for the government”, he claims. “Today’s figures are the clearest proof yet that the government’s decision to cut too far and too fast is hurting and just not working. Unemployment is soaring, and more young people are out of work than ever before.”
The Employment Secretary Chris Grayling denied that the statistics indict the government, claiming that Britain was now seeing “the impact of the international financial crisis”. He also said that, despite the UK not using the Euro currency, it is “not immune” to the problems currently being experienced in Greece and other Eurozone countries. Scottish unemployment figures, despite an increase of 7000 in the last quarter, are now at 7.9% which is just below the UK average of 8.1%. The Scots employment rate now sits at 71.2% , while the UK average is 70.4%
First Minister Alex Salmond has said that the figures reinforce the validity of the Scottish government’s demand that Westminster adopts a “Plan MacB” approach, lest Scotland be “Derailed by Westminster’s wrong-headed economic policy”.
“A Westminster ‘Plan MacB’ must deliver real action in the areas where Scottish government policy is making a difference – increased capital expenditure, improved access to finance for medium and small-sized businesses, as well as the introduction of measures to boost consumer confidence and economic security.”
However, Labour’s Finance Spokesman, is unconvinced by the reliability of the Scottish economic plan. “While Alex Salmond talks on the TV about ‘Plan MacB’, he is cutting capital investment more than even George Osborne, cutting key drivers of growth like colleges, and presiding over continuing stagnation in the Scottish economy”, he said. “Scotland is stuck between a Tory government cutting too fast and an SNP government whose economic policy simply isn’t working.”
Liz Cameron, the Chief of the Scottish chambers of Commerce, stated: “The second half of this year was always going to be a difficult one for employment in Scotland with public sector cuts beginning to take hold, cost pressures on the increase and growing concerns about the state of the US and Eurozone economies.
Prime Minister, David Cameron, argued that he did have a plan for cutting the deficit ; “if you don’t have a credible economic plan, you’re not at the races”, he sympathised with the unemployed saying “Every job lost is a tragedy”.
Opposition leader Ed Milliband struck back by casting doubt on Cameron’s plan; “to have a credible plan for the deficit, you need a plan for growth”.