Rise in demand for out-of-work benefits in Aberdeenshire
The number of people claiming unemployment benefits in Aberdeenshire rose last month – and was more than double that seen at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
Office for National Statistics data shows 6,520 people were claiming out-of-work benefits as of mid-January, up from 6,445 in December last year.
The figure was also much higher than the 2,980 recorded in early March 2020.
It means fur per cent of Aberdeenshire's working-age population sought support in January – up from 1.8 per cent nine months earlier.
The figures include those aged 16 to 64 on Jobseeker’s Allowance and some Universal Credit claimants, who are unemployed and seeking work or employed but with low earnings.
The ONS cautioned that changes to Universal Credit in response to the virus mean more people can get the benefits while still being employed, which could affect the figures.
It also said a small number of people who can claim both JSA and UC could be counted twice.
Those on benefits last month were among roughly 206,000 across Scotland.
Rebecca McDonald, senior economist at anti-poverty charity the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said although the end of lockdown may now be in sight, the figures are a reminder that "the journey to economic recovery will be long".
"Unemployment is high and millions of families are already relying on Universal Credit to keep their heads above water," she said.
"That number will only grow as furlough is unwound and unemployment peaks later this year."