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Unemployment benefit claims fell slightly in South Lanarkshire last month bucking the national trend.

New figures from the Office for National Statistics revealed 13,025 people across the region were claiming unemployment benefit in June – down 1.7 per cent from 13,250 people in May.

However, the figures represent a 90 per cent increase on the number of claims in South Lanarkshire for January (6830) as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

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Now councillors have warned the future looks bleak without further government intervention.

Leader of the Labour group, Councillor Joe Fagan, said: “COVID is more than a public health crisis, it is an economic crisis too.

“We have seen the biggest drop in GDP ever recorded and unemployment is forecast to rise dramatically. Even as the economy comes out of lockdown, some industries might never recover.

“Lanarkshire has lived with the consequences of deindustrialisation before and that is what we face again, unless there is concerted action to save jobs.”

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He said Labour are pushing for a “robust community wealth building strategy” to keep more of the wealth created here in local communities and to use the spending power of the council to boost the local economy.

The East Kilbride councillor called for action to support town centres and local businesses, as well as a stimulus package to help certain industries.

The local Liberal Democrats are calling for South Lanarkshire Council to “use every ounce” of its economic clout to help sustain jobs in the long term.

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Group leader, Councillor Robert Brown, added: “The proposed Lanarkshire Economic Forum urgently needs to get going and the Scottish government must stop centralising everything and allow councils the freedom to act.”

A SNP spokesman said unemployment across South Lanarkshire would continue to rise as UK government’s job retention schemes draws to a close before the economy is “fully reopened”.

He added: “Without UK support schemes in place, it is inevitable some people will lose their jobs.

“We are working across sectors to ensure people out of work are supported back into employment, but would encourage the Tories at Westminster to extend the furlough scheme for the most affected sectors beyond the October deadline.”

Across Scotland, 215,180 people were claiming unemployment benefit this June - up slightly from 214,550 people in May.

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