Study reveals how town is ‘vulnerable’ to public spending cuts

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HAWICK has been identified as an area vulnerable to the economic downturn associated with public sector spending cuts.

Research released this week shows that there is a high dependence on public sector jobs in many small towns and Hawick, along with Eyemouth, are two in the south east of Scotland which have been flagged up.

The study was carried out by the Rural Policy Centre at the Scottish Agricultural College.

Its author Jane Atterton said the findings should be treated with some caution.

“We haven’t got all towns in there from across Scotland, this is a selection of 44 so we do have to be a little bit careful about how we talk about different towns in the sense of where they sit in the index,” she said.

“The reasons for the vulnerability do differ, but certainly it is an important thing for policy makers and local practitioners to be looking at.”

But Councillor Stuart Marshall has called on the Scottish Government and Scottish Borders Council to pay particular attention to what has been revealed.

He said: “It’s obviously disappointing to read such reports, but it doesn’t come as a surprise to me, given the fact that there are so many people who I represent who are looking for work .

“Only last week I was in a home where three out of four members were unemployed and that is just so disheartening.

“These figures only strengthen my argument as a councillor, because it makes me even more anxious to work much closer with our counterparts in Holyrood and Westminster to try and improve the areas which we represent.

“It’s fair to say that much of my work is concentrated on dealing with people who through no fault of their own have real serious social and economic problems, and to be honest these people deserve nothing less than to be given a fair chance.

“I think as long as Hawick has a high unemployment status, and as long as families in the town struggle to pay their bills, then I am afraid that our town is very vulnerable indeed.

“This report shows that it is vitally important that the needs of the people of Hawick are heard with a sympathetic ear, and our town is not put at risk by any budgetary pressures that may come from either Holyrood or SBC in the coming months.”