HELENSBURGH and Lomond could face a hospitality unemployment crisis if the Scottish and UK governments don’t do more to protect local jobs, the area’s MSP has warned.

Jackie Baillie says that if the UK Government’s furlough scheme ends in October, in line with Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s current plans, many of the people employed in cafes, bars and restaurants across Argyll and Bute face being laid off.

Ms Baillie says that according to research by her Scottish Labour colleagues, 4,840 people work in cafes, bars and restaurants across Argyll and Bute, along with another 2,935 in neighbouring West Dunbartonshire.

She said: “The UK Government has responded to pressure and offered restaurants support – but only in the short-term.

READ MORE: Which Helensburgh restaurants have registered for the government's Eat Out to Help Out scheme?

“Otherwise A hospitality unemployment crisis could cause serious damage – not just for the workers laid off, but for everyone in my constituency.

“With almost 8,000 workers employed in the sector across West Dunbartonshire and Argyll and Bute, the local economy depends on hospitality jobs, and our local hospitality sector needs jobs for good.

“The Scottish Government must step up the fight to save these jobs.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Scotland’s hospitality industry is vital to our economy and we understand the devastating impact this pandemic has had on the sector.

READ MORE: Tax cut is welcomed as Helensburgh's hospitality sector reopens after lockdown

“This week, the Scottish Government announced funding of £100 million to support people looking for work or those at risk of redundancy.

“At least £50 million of that has been set aside to help young people get into work.

“The measures include a job guarantee for young people, a new national retraining scheme, and more funding to provide immediate assistance and advice if people are made redundant.”

READ MORE: What have Helensburgh's pubs, restaurants and cafes done to comply with post-lockdown rules?

A Treasury spokesperson commented: “Earlier this month we announced the second stage of our plan to spur the UK’s recovery from the coronavirus outbreak.

“It includes a 15 per cent VAT cut for the hospitality and leisure industry, the Eat Out to Help Out scheme, and the Job Retention Bonus.

“Since March, the Scottish Government has received £4.6 billion through the Barnett formula, including an additional £800 million at the summer economic update.”

READ MORE: Click here for all the latest news stories from across Helensburgh and Lomond