THE number of people in Helensburgh on Universal Credit has climbed by more than 75 per cent since the pandemic hit.

Between March 12 and May 14, the figure climbed from 677 people to 1,186 as people across the UK lost their jobs or were placed on furlough because of the lockdown.

And the gender gap within statistics from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is stark, with a 95.1 per cent rise in claims from men, and 59.1 per cent for women.

The latest quarterly figures, which are likely to come as little surprise, mirror the monthly statistics released by the government in the early weeks of the lockdown, when the number climbed from 677 people to 988.

READ MORE: Universal Credit figures show sharp rise in Helensburgh claims in the early weeks of lockdown

The Helensburgh and Lomond area's MSP Jackie Baillie told the Advertiser the figures showed the extent of the impact on residents and businesses. But it was also a "wake-up call" for all governments.

She said: "We are heading for a deep economic recession and it is increasingly worrying that more men are finding themselves out of work than women, with no idea of when or if they will return to full time employment. This suggests a real underlying shift in the economy.

“We need both a short and long-term economic recovery plan which has protecting those who are unemployed as its number one priority.

"I welcomed the extension of the Job Retention Scheme but the programme ends in October.

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"In the coming months businesses will have to make tough decisions about whether they bring their workforce back or make further redundancies.

“Our area relies on tourism and this sector is likely to be amongst the hardest hit.

"We need to ensure that there is local investment so that the sector recovers for what is left of this season and the start of the next."

Statistics show the level of 16-24-year-olds claiming unemployment benefits almost doubled between February and May, rising to 7.1 per cent.

READ MORE: Jobs lost in Arrochar and Tarbet as two hotels close after holiday firm's collapse

Ms Baillie said the local supply chain should be a priority for government and growth of new jobs.

She said: “One of the things that the pandemic has taught us is that local supply chains are more secure and reliable.

"Whether it’s individuals shopping locally or public agencies procuring services from SMEs, or even large scale renewable projects making turbine jackets, we must make sure that we work with local companies as this will help to create local jobs.

“I will work alongside the UK and Scottish Governments to ensure that those who find themselves out of a job and in need of financial aid have the support and protection that they need.”

READ MORE: Catch up with the latest news headlines from across Helensburgh and Lomond here