Unemployment now at
I have onceagain calledon theGovernmentto changecoursefollowing thenews thatunemployment has risen in Kilmarnock andLoudoun for the third month running. Newfigures show long term youth unemployment isup 29%, and the over 50s are increasinglysuffering, with 37% more people inKilmarnock and Loudoun on benefits for oversix months since January 2011. The figuresalso show that Scotland is faring worse thanthe rest of the UK with nearly a quarter of amillion Scots now out of work. When Iquestioned David Cameron about risingunemployment in November he admitted thatthe number of people out of work was too highand that he wanted to see it come down. Yettwo months later the numbers have risen evenfurther and only confirm what local families inKilmarnock and Loudoun already know
weare in the grip of an unemployment crisis.It was disappointing to hear that retail chainPeacocks has gone in to administration.Hopefully a buyer can be found, and theKilmarnock jobs protected. I have spoken tomy Shadow Treasury colleague Owen SmithMP, in whose constituency the company HQ islocated, and he is keeping me updated on thelatest developments.
I was also in touch again with Unite the Union
regarding Mahle, ahead of the workforce massmeeting on Saturday. I hope that the companywill be prepared to get back round the table forfurther talks.
Big Energy Week in Parliament
Despite some reductions ahead in the cost offuel bills, sky high prices are stretchinghousehold budgets. Big Energy Week, run byCitizens Advice, was launched in Parliamentto help people get practical advice on cuttingtheir fuel bills and understand all of thefinancial support they can receive. A newwebsite(www.bigenergyweek.org.uk)has tips
on how to cut energy bills.I met Gillian Guy,Chief Executiveof CitizensAdvice to discussthe problemspeople arefacing. Shehighlighted thatsome people are struggling unnecessarily
because they’re not on the best
deal, live inhomes that haemorrhage heat, or are notgetting all of the financial help available tothem.
Amnesty Campaign Success
Regular readers may recall that I supportedthe Amnesty International campaign to havepolitical prisoners in Burma released. I wasparticularly keen to highlight the case of MieMie,and Iwas delightedto hear thenews fromAmnestyInternationalthat she hasbeen freed,bringing thetotal number ofpolitical prisoners released to at least 477. Butthe campaign continues for the release of over
1000 still behind bars.