NEARLY 3,000 more residents of Clydebank and north-west Glasgow are on Universal Credit (UC) now than before the pandemic started.

Figures from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) show the number of people on UC at Clydebank Jobcentre has gone up 71.4 per cent between March 12 and May 14, now totalling 4,562 people.

Drumchapel Jobcentre saw a 50 per cent rise in the same period, up to 2,272 people.

The gender gap continues to be stark, with a rise of 85.5 per cent in UC male claimants compared to 57 per cent for women in Clydebank. Drumchapel saw a rise of 64.4 per cent for men and 38.4 per cent for women.

West Dunbartonshire MP Martin Docherty-Hughes said the area was already experiencing “dire consequences” of de-industrialisation and needed to be ready for the next challenges of the pandemic.

He said: “We need to have a radically different approach which ensures that each and every citizen in West Dunbartonshire has access, not only access to the digital economy but one which offers us a radically different digital Scotland.

“We need a society in which we use technology not merely to reduce local bureaucracy but to improve our wellbeing, ensuring that every citizen, no matter if they live in a tenement or terraced housed, is supported to be an equal digital citizen.

“We have the opportunity to ensure that innovation is not locked in to big cities, but in the homes and work places of West Dunbartonshire, helping to improve the environment and putting communities at the heart of any new economy.

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“We need to extend connectivity, promote the digital economy, digitise public services and promote digital participation. Good progress has been made in Scotland and we are now in a position to realise West Dunbartonshire and all of Scotland’s full potential.”

Statistics show the level of 16-24-year-olds claiming unemployment benefits almost doubled between February and May, rising to 7.1 per cent. West Dunbartonshire’s unemployment rate of 7.8 per cent is second only to North Ayrshire.

Damon Scott, chief executive of Dunbartonshire Chamber of Commerce, added: “The global economic impact of the Covid-19 crisis has been devastating with travel, retail, hospitality and tourism and associated supply chains particularly hard hit.

“Locally, we are unfortunately seeing the impact of the crisis on the latest employment figures for our area. The statistics are deeply concerning and present major challenges both for our businesses and the opportunities and development of our young people.

“Protecting jobs must be a top priority and we need the Scottish and UK Governments to work together to provide a multi-level approach to provide additional support for our businesses and communities. Support for businesses to take on young people and develop their skills through apprenticeship schemes will be key to future employability and skills.”