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West Dunbartonshire and Argyll and Bute could face a hospitality unemployment crisis if SNP ministers do not step up the fight for jobs as restaurants re-open.

Jackie Baillie, MSP for Dumbarton Constituency, has warned that if the furlough scheme ends before a quality Jobs Guarantee Scheme is in place, thousands of workers in restaurants, bars and cafes could be laid off. There is a strong case for extending the furlough scheme in the hospitality sector as recovery is likely to be slower.

The Scottish Labour Party has calculated that the hospitality sector directly employs 2935 people across West Dunbartonshire and a whopping 4840 people in Argyll and Bute.

Jackie Baillie MSP said:

“Across both West Dunbartonshire and Argyll and Bute, many people will be enjoying their first meal out since March, and many chefs, waiting staff and kitchen staff will be back at work for the first time since then.

“But necessary social distancing measures mean businesses are unable to trade at normal levels. The effects of this are already being seen, with some workers having been laid off in spite of government support.

“The UK Government has responded to pressure and offered restaurants support – but only in the short-term. Otherwise a hospitality unemployment crisis could cause serious damage – not just for the workers laid off, but for everyone in my constituency. With almost 8000 workers employed in the sector across West Dunbartonshire and Argyll and Bute, the local economy depends on hospitality jobs, and our local hospitality sector needs jobs for good. Extending the furlough scheme in this sector could provide a lifeline to thousands of workers.

“The Scottish Government must step up the fight to save these jobs. Businesses need greater support to make the adaptations they need to accommodate greater social distancing, allowing them to keep more staff on their books. A quality Jobs Guarantee Scheme could stimulate demand as well, so that when the furlough scheme ends in other sectors workers can still afford to visit restaurants and bars.”

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