THE unemployment rate in central Bute is now more than twice the Argyll and Bute average, according to statistics released by a Highlands Labour MSP this week.
A total of 120 people - 7.7 per cent - were unemployed in the central Bute area in June, while the number of people without a job in Bute as a whole rose from 201 in June 2010 to 236 12 months later.
Official figures released to David Stewart MSP by the Office for National Statistics indicate that the numbers out of work across Argyll and Bute rose from 1,597 in June of last year to 1,779 this June; the overall rate for the area now stands at 3.1 per cent.
Other areas of high unemployment in Argyll and Bute include the Ardenslate and Milton areas of Dunoon (8.4 per cent and 7.5 per cent respectively), while the number out of work in Helensburgh now stands at 231.
Mr Stewart said: “These worrying figures for Argyll and Bute are a consequence of the ConDem coalition cutting public spending too fast and too deep.
“Coupled with the rise in VAT, this has led to sluggish growth and a collapse in consumer confidence.
“To reinvigorate the economy, we need to get more people back in work through policies such as a temporary cut in VAT.”
Mr Stewart also criticised comments by SNP Westminster MP Pete Wishart in the Scots Independent newspaper, in which Mr Wishart urged the party to make winning an independence referendum its “exclusive focus”.
These calls, he said, “show how remote the SNP are from the real needs of the people of Argyll and Bute about jobs and economic security”.