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The UK's 'Furlough scheme' - formally the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – has recently been supporting 1,000 jobs in the Western Isles, according to the latest figures up to the end of April.

That was nine per cent of eligible employment - and considerably higher than the level in Orkney and Shetland at seven percent.  Those islands escaped the second lockdown.

But the Western Isles had a far lower rate than the stricken, tourist-dependent area of Ross, Skye and Lochaber which had 15 per cent of its eligible workforce on furlough. 

The Ross, Skye and Lochaber figure was the equal highest level in Scotland – along with Edinburgh East, Glasgow Central, and Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey, also on 15 per cent. 

Highlands and Islands MSP Donald Cameron says this shows that the UK Government’s furlough scheme is still playing a vital role in protecting jobs and livelihoods in the Western Isles.

The Scottish Conservative MSP said: “The latest figures, which take us to the end of April, show that 1,000 people across the Western Isles were still being supported by the furlough scheme.

“This level of support clearly shows  the immense benefits of being able to pool the economic strength and resources of the United Kingdom.

“We now need to harness that strength to deliver a lasting economic recovery as we emerge from the restrictions caused by the pandemic.

“Nevertheless, I know that many people will be reassured to know that the Chancellor has committed to maintain the furlough scheme until the end of September, which is a truly unprecedented commitment."