Renfrewshire MP Mhairi Black is urging the Chancellor to act to prevent a huge spike in unemployment next month as the number of people coming off furlough slows down – at the same time reports have revealed that the UK economy grew by just 0.1%.

Data from the Office for National Statistics and HMRC show that the use of the scheme barely changed between the end of July and the middle of August, dropping from 7% of the workforce to 6.3%.

The Resolution Foundation has said that the “number of people coming off furlough over the summer has slowed to a trickle” and highlighted “the risks of a fresh rise in unemployment this autumn”.

Around 1.6 million people are still relying on furlough.

Furlough is set to completely come to an end at the end of this month, at the same time as welfare cuts come into force and energy prices rise – all of which the SNP has warned will create mass redundancies and put more people into poverty.

This week the UK government also voted to raise National Insurance by 1.25% in April 2022.

Mhairi Black, MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South, said: “The UK Government are making the rich richer and the poor poorer. With almost 2 million people still relying on the furlough scheme it would be absolutely crazy to end the payments while people are still very much relying on them to get by. We are inevitably going to see even more poverty and more redundancies in Renfrewshire if the Chancellor does not act.

“The Tories have ploughed ahead with cuts to Universal Credit and Working Tax Credits and now they have just voted to increase National Insurance. It is not the millionaire ministers in Westminster that are making these decisions that will be impacted but the low- and middle-income workers, our young people, and those families that need support the most.

“This UK Government has no remorse and clearly no understanding of the challenges people are currently facing. We have just seen another poll indicating that the majority of Scottish people want an independence referendum. I am not surprised considering the way in which Boris Johnson and his cabinet of super villains continue to conduct themselves, continually heightening inequality, cutting welfare payments, and introducing tax hikes.”