The number of people in Argyll and Bute claiming benefits has risen by six per cent in a year, according to the latest figures, but remains 50 per cent lower than five years ago.
The figures for December 2017, collated by local authority area, show that there were 905 claimants, up by 55 from a year before. However, the latest figure is still 923 less than in December 2012, with the percentage drop in claimants aged 18-24 even higher at 61 per cent.
Speaking more specifically about Bute, Tracy Eacups, Jobcentre customer service manager for the West of Scotland district, remains upbeat despite the rise in claimants across the county.
She said: “Obviously it’s an island so it’s limited but things are looking up on Bute.
“There are opportunities. Bute Island Foods vegan cheese company started off with 25 staff and now has 100. They supply Tesco and Sainsbury’s so they are doing well.
“And they are now doing more recruitment. They are currently looking to recruit process operatives, a warehouse/dispatch operative, a technical assistant and an industrial cleaner.
“Due to shift patterns the jobs are only for island residents as the ferry service doesn’t fit the times.”
Tracy was also keen to promote the Jobcentre’s programme encouraging local people to start their own business – New Enterprise Allowance (NEA).
She said: “The other positive news on Bute is that the job centre is supporting customers into self employment.
“NEA could give you money and support to help you start your own business. It is aimed at supporting the creation of a business.
“This is something that many people have used in Rothesay. We offer assistance which includes dedicated support for the first 26 weeks.
“Maybe people don’t know about it, so we are keen to publicise this and encourage anyone who is interested to get along to the job centre and speak to our staff.”