Figures reveal higher Highland unemployment level

14 January 2013

Highlands and Islands MSP Rhoda Grant is highlighting figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) "model-based " unemployment estimates for local authorities which show an unemployment rate for the Highland council area of 4.7 per cent compared with the 2.8 per cent rate from the ONS's monthly claimant count for Job Seekers Allowance. (JSA) .

The figures are compiled on a different basis.

Using both sets of figures provides a fuller picture of unemployment in the area than the JSA figures alone.

The  number of claimants for Job Seekers Allowance in the Highland Council area In November stood at 3,911 or 2.8 per cent.

The latest ONS' additional "model-based" figure for unemployment in the Highlands records the level at 5,600 or 4.7 per cent.

This refers to the period July 2011-June 2012.

Rhoda Grant said,

" These more comprehensive figures are worrying and emphasise the need to grow the Highland economy to put it on the road to recovery.

"We need growth in the Highlands on the grounds of both fairness and prosperity.

"Unemployment is wasteful and soul destroying to those who find themselves out of work.

"Scottish Labour have repeatedly asked the Scottish Government to reinstate the housing budget in order to kick start construction and provide jobs and training throughout the region.

"If the necessary investment is made now, then this will provide benefits to the area through jobs now and through infrastructure in the near future." 




Darling Argues the case for the Union in Inverness

8 January 2013

One of the most senior figures within the Better Together campaign, Alistair Darling MP, is visiting Inverness today to present the case for remaining within the Union, to the people of the Highland Capital.

As part of the visit Mr Darling will be giving a speech on Better Together and laying out his vision for Scotland as part of the United Kingdom

During his visit he plans to meet former forces members at the Royal British Legion Club in Huntly Street, Inverness. 

David Stewart MSP, who was previously a Parliamentary Private Secretary to Alistair Darling MP during his time as Secretary of State for Scotland is delighted the visit it taking place.

Commenting on the visit Mr Stewart said, “During my political career I have always had a keen interest in armed forces and during my time at Westminster.

" I had the honour through the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme, to ‘serve ‘with the RAF. 

"I had placements at RAF Lossie and Kinloss, as well as in Basra, and flew in a Tornado, Nimrod and Sea King search and rescue aircraft.”

He continued, “I have a personal attachment to the services through my father who did his national service with the Royal Air Force as a fresh-faced 18-year-old, and his first posting was at Kinloss.”

The event at the Royal British Legion Club is one of the first major events organised by Better Together in the Highlands, although cross-party campaigning has already taken place in the forms of street stalls, door knocking and leafleting.

Talking about the campaign Mr Stewart further stated, “We have had a great response campaigning on the doors and speaking to people in the street.

"A lot of people value the strong connection that Scotland has with the rest of the UK through institutions like the armed forces and agree that the UK is Better Together.”

Better Together campaigning will continue across the Highlands and Islands in the build up to the referendum on separation in 2014, and will be one of the key talking points at this years Scottish Labour Party Conference which takes place in Inverness in April 2013. 

Senior Labour figures including Labour leader Ed Miliband MP and Scottish Labour leaderJohann Lamont MSP will take to the stage to argue the case for Scotland remaining a part of the UK.


Rhoda Grant : Speeches in the Scottish Parliament

Oil and Gas Sector 9/01/2013

Employability 8/01/2013 

The Switch Together Campaign

14 November 2012

The Labour Party has joined forces with a commercial partner,  iChoosr , to purchase electricity in bulk for people who sign up at a cheaper rate than they are likely to achieve working on their own.

Energy bills are now one of the largest costs facing families but only 20% of people are currently on the cheapest deal – with the rest paying £4 billion a year more than they should.

Ultimately, the most direct way that energy bills will be driven down for everyone is by a root-and-branch reform of  the energy market .

That is why Labour has drawn up detailed policies for the next Labour government to break the grip of the Big Six energy companies, simplify tariffs and ensure that vulnerable people are offered the lowest rate available.

Although Labour is not yet in government, it wants to help families tackle the rising cost of living right now.

So many confusing tariffs on the market can make switching from one supplier to another difficult which is why many people have given up trying.

 Ofgem have estimated that  60 per cent of consumers have never tried to switch supplier.

For several months Labour has been working on a SwitchTogether scheme with its partner,  iChoosr.

If lots of people sign up to SwitchTogether, iChoosr will be able to negotiate a better deal with the energy companies than people would be able to get on their own.

This is different from websites where comparisons between energy costs can be made to discover the cheapest rate because this collective approach is about getting lots of people coming together to switch at once.

There is no obligation to accept the price determined at auction.

Nevertheless, everyone who signs up will be offered the deal after the auction.

People can indicate their interest now at






Ed Miliband's Labour Party conference speech 

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Johann Lamont, leader of the Scottish Labour Party, addresses the Labour Party annual conference 2012



Margaret Curran , Labour's Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland, addresses the Labour Party annual conference 2012




SNP slash hospital bed numbers


4 October 2012


Highlands & Islands Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant, is calling on the Scottish Government to get a grip over dwindling hospital bed numbers in the Highlands.

New figures show that 1,000 beds have been cuts in hospitals across Scotland since the SNP came in to power in 2007.

In Highland bed numbers are at an all time low with 215 fewer beds in 2012 than five years ago.

This follows a number of SNP health cuts, signed off by the former health secretary, Nicola Sturgeon.

Since coming to power the SNP have axed 2,500 nurses and midwives, A&E waiting times are going up and complaints are at a record high.

Rhoda Grant MSP said:

“11 of Scotland's 16 Health Boards have cut acute care beds and more beds have been identified for closure this year, along with more cuts to nurses and doctors.

“Despite pledges to protect the NHS budget, the reality of the SNP's choices in government is that patient care continues to suffer as the NHS buckles under the pressure of trying to do more with fewer resources.

“Patients are suffering under NHS Highland not through the fault of doctors and nurses, but because of government cut backs.”


Scottish Labour's Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Health, Jackie Baillie MSP, said:

“Despite the fantasy-world speeches given by the SNP, the reality on the ground is of the NHS cutting right across the country.

“If you cut beds, then it needs to be because you are treating people more effectively and changing the way in which you treat them.

“But given the longer waits in A&E, the operations cancelled, delayed discharges, multiple bed moves and the record number of complaints - this isn't a planned reduction: it's chaos.

“It's time for the SNP to be honest about the choices they've made, which sees fewer beds and nurses in our hospitals and we will have see even more closures this year.

“Something has got to give - the SNP either need to invest more money into health, or be honest about what we can no longer expect from our over-stretched NHS.”



Rhoda Grant MSP : Patient Care speech in the Scottish Parliament 19/09/2011


11,500 underemployed in the Highlands alongside 3, 700 unemployed


14 September 2012

Official Government figures indicate that there are 11,500 people in the Highland council area who are “underemployed.”

The underemployment figure represents 1 in 10 of the Highland workforce.

Commenting on the figures, Highlands and Islands MSP David Stewart , said ,

“These underemployment figures are the shadow that accompanies the official unemployment figures.

“For every one person in the Highland council area who is unemployed , there are three who are underemployed.

“The figure of 11,500 underemployed illustrates just how much the lack of employment opportunities has become a social problem that needs to be addressed urgently.

“ Without the income to meet their needs, people’s spending power falls, which damages the local economy

“We need a change in direction of economic policy that puts jobs first.

“We need to put people back to work in good –paying jobs by investing in infrastructure that will form the basis of the future prosperity of the Highlands”




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