As news of an extension to the furlough scheme is announced, figures have increased.

Donald Cameron MSPDonald Cameron MSP
Donald Cameron MSP
Concerns have been raised over the number of people in the Western Isles who are using the furlough scheme.

Highlands and Islands Scottish Conservative MSP Donald Cameron has welcomed news confirming that the UK Government’s furloughing scheme is to be extended, just as it was revealed that the number of jobs being protected by the scheme in the Western Isles has risen steeply.

The decision to extend was revealed earlier today by UK Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng in advance of the Budget tomorrow.

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Meanwhile statistics released by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) show that as at January 31 some 1,300 jobs across the Western Isles were reliant on the UK Government's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

This represents a steep rise from the previous snapshot in December last year, when around 1,000 jobs had been furloughed across the Western Isles.

Mr Cameron said: “These are remarkable figures and clearly demonstrate the enormous commitment being made by the UK Government to help protect jobs and livelihoods across Scotland and which has extended specifically to the Western Isles.

“It is immensely reassuring to know that the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak remains committed to the furlough scheme and that local people will continue to have this level of security.

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“And, frankly, what a contrast to the dismal performance of the Scottish National Party who seem to be expending all their energies indulging in a bitter civil war between the supporters of Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon.”