Another week, another new Audi. Two new Audis, in fact. The German car maker has announced a couple more additions to its Q line up of SUVs. The Q4 is a coupe-SUV hybrid that will go up against the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe. As its name suggests, it’ll be positioned between the compact Q3 and bigger Q5. At the other end of the scale is the Q8, which will go head to head against the Range Rover. It’s lower and sleeker than the Q7 Audi is also producing. In concept form, it sat only four people, although it seems likely the production version will be a five seater. There’s a 630 litre boot as well. Eagle eyed Audi followers will notice the only SUV slots left to fill are the Q1 and Q6. Watch this space...
The number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance fell dramatically in Tayside, Fife and the Forth Valley last month. Figures released on Wednesday show that, in percentage terms, there were double-digit drops in Dundee, Fife, Angus and Perth and Kinross, and 9% falls in Stirling and Clackmannanshire. In Dundee, there were 4,738 people claiming JSA last month, down from 5,346 in August. There was an even bigger fall in Fife. The claimant count fell from 10,559 to 9,087, a drop of 14%. In Perth and Kinross, the number of JSA claimants fell by 10% to 1,707 and Angus recorded the biggest drop in percentage terms. The number of claimants plunged to 1,639 from 2,014, an incredible 19% fall. Dundee City Council city development committee convener Will Dawson said: “It is pleasing to see the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance in Dundee has gone down. “We are striving to become a vibrant and attractive city with an excellent quality of life.” North-East Scotland MSP Jenny Marra said, however: “More people are taking short-term or part-time contracts because long-term permanent posts aren’t available. “This isn’t sustainable for our full economic recovery as people who have an uncertain financial future are less likely to spend money.”
More jobseekers in Dundee have had their benefits suspended over the past year than those from anywhere else in Scotland. Figures released by the Department for Work and Pensions show 2,420 people from Dundee had their Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) payments stopped temporarily for not doing enough to find work, turning down jobs offered to them or failing to turn up for appointments. People across the UK have had their benefit payments suspended 580,000 times since tougher rules were introduced in October last year. The UK Government claims the stricter enforcement of penalties teaches people without work about the responsibilities of having a job, although Citizen’s Advice claims penalising claimants will make it even harder for them to find a job. Although Dundee JobCentre had the highest number of sanctions of any JobCentre in Scotland, it is the only JobCentre in the city and so deals with a higher volume of claimants than many other centres. In Arbroath, benefits were suspended 520 times, while there were 200 sanctions in Forfar, 380 in Montrose and 710 in Perth. There were 980 suspensions in Alloa, 1,110 in Dunfermline, 650 in Leven, 60 in St Andrews and 960 in Stirling. The most common reason for a sanction (36%) was the claimant not actively seeking work. A further 30% of those sanctioned were because claimants failed to participate in employment programmes designed to help people back to work and 20% were sanctioned because they did not have a good reason for missing a meeting at the Jobcentre. UK Government employment minister Esther McVey said: “This Government has always been clear that in return for claiming unemployment benefits, jobseekers have a responsibility to do everything they can to get back into work. “We are ending the something-for-nothing culture. People who are in a job know if they don’t play by the rules or fail to turn up in the morning, there might be consequences, so it’s only right people on benefits should have similar responsibilities. “We always make the rules very clear it’s only right there is a penalty if people fail to play by them.” People who consistently flout the rules can lose their benefits for up to three years. People who are deemed not be looking for work can lose their benefits for four weeks for the first incident, rising to 13 weeks for a second or subsequent failures. Lower level sanctions, such as failing to attend an adviser interview, will lead to claimants losing all of their JSA for a fixed period of four weeks for the first failure, followed by 13 weeks for subsequent failures. All sanctions are imposed by an independent decision maker and claimants have a right to appeal. Citizens Advice Scotland chief executive Margaret Lynch said: “These figures show more and more people are suffering loss of benefits. “But at the CAB, we see a large number of cases where people have been sanctioned unfairly but often for reasons which are, in fact, the fault of the Jobcentre itself. “For example, people who have been sanctioned for missing appointments they hadn’t been told about. “If you are relying on benefits as your only source of income, life is hard enough. But to then lose scarce income altogether often for a period of months is simply devastating.”
A Dundee man is facing charges of obtaining over £22,000 in Jobseekers Allowance, housing benefit and council tax benefit he was not entitled to. It is alleged between June 20 2008 and July 17 2012 Clifford Guyan, 48, of Crescent Lane, knowingly made a false statement to the Department for Work and Pensions officials on applications and review forms for Jobseekers Allowance, while he had savings exceeding the upper limit and obtained £13,438.85 Jobseekers Allowance (Income Based) he was not entitled to. It is also alleged between June 23 2008 and December 20 2009 at Crescent Lane he made a false statement to Dundee City Council and obtained £5,544.93 of housing benefit he was not entitled to. It is further alleged between June 23 2008 and March 31 2013 at Crescent Lane he made false statements to the council and obtained £3,371.46 council tax benefit he was not entitled to. The case was continued without plea for three weeks to April 4.
An Angus fraudster who falsely claimed more than £11,000 in benefits has been jailed for nine months. Jon Robertson (31), of Dalgarno Park, Hillside, appeared at Arbroath Sheriff Court. He previously admitted that. between August 16 2010 and February 12, he made false representations to Angus Council and the Department for Work and Pensions by failing to declare his wife was living with him. Robertson was paid £11,674.42 to which he was not entitled, in housing benefit, council tax benefit, jobseeker’s allowance and income support, by knowingly filling in forms fraudulently at Montrose Jobcentre. The court heard he has previous convictions for fraud and attempting to pervert the course of justice. Defence agent Lynn Sturrock said he has accepted responsibility for his actions. She added: “He has been in custody previously and, if he were to receive a custodial sentence, it is likely his wife would have to give up employment to look after their two children. “He recognises the position he is in and the seriousness of the offence he has committed.” Sheriff Peter Paterson said: “The simple fact of the matter is that you do have previous for fraud, and under the circumstances I have no alternative but to impose a custodial sentence.”
Unemployment in Scotland has fallen by 14,000 in three months, official figures show. Data for July to September reveals that 129,000 people were out of work during that period. The unemployment rate now stands at 4.7%, just below the rate of 4.8% recorded for the UK as a whole. While unemployment fell, figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that employment also dropped by 25,000 over the same spell. The number of those in work in Scotland stands at 2,604,000. The Scottish Government said there are now 40,000 more people in employment than at the pre-recession peak in 2008. But the UK Government said the employment rate, now "lagging behind" the UK, should be a concern to Scottish ministers. ONS data shows that employment fell by 25,000 over the quarter to a rate of73.6%, below the UK average of 74.5%. Compared with the same time last year,employment is down by 12,000. However, unemployment has also fallen over the course of the year, by 38,000. In September, the number of people out of work and claiming jobseeker's allowance was 54,000. The Scottish Government said Scotland is outperforming the UK on female and youth employment. Holyrood's Economy Secretary Keith Brown said: "Today's labour market statistics again show that Scotland is outperforming the UK on unemployment and has the second highest employment rate of the four nations. "Our female and youth employment rates are also higher than those for the UK as a whole." The SNP MSP added that given the current "challenging economic conditions", the administration will continue efforts to support growth. Scottish Secretary David Mundell said: "It is good news that unemployment continues to fall in Scotland. "But with Scotland's employment rates now lagging behind the rate of the UK and economic inactivity on the rise, these figures should be a concern to the Scottish Government." The Conservative MP called on Scottish ministers to use next month's budget to set out how they plan to use "significant new tax and welfare powers" to support the economy.
A Glenrothes benefits cheat, who illegally claimed nearly £13,000 in the space of a year, has been ordered to do 140 hours’ community service. Vikki McLaughlin, of Lorne Court, claimed income support, Jobseeker’s Allowance, as well as housing and council tax benefit, after failing to declare that her partner had gained full-time employment. At court in Kirkcaldy on Thursday, Sheriff Grant McCulloch heard that the 28-year-old had accumulated £12,921 due to her lies. McLaughlin admitted illegally claiming income- related employment support allowance between June 18 2012 and January 15 2013, and Jobseeker’s Allowance between January 16 2013 and May 30 2013, when she failed to tell the Department for Work and Pensions that her partner was in full-time employment with Stagecoach Group Plc. She also pled guilty to claiming housing and council tax benefit between June 25 2013 and June 30 2013, after failing to notify Fife Council of the same change in her circumstances. Sheriff McCulloch said: “For around a year you benefited to the extent of just under £13,000 by failing to disclose an important change of circumstances, that your partner was now in full-time employment. “That’s fraud, theft if you like, from all taxpayers in the country.”
Unemployment in Scotland has risen again with a new report warning 95,000 more jobs are in jeopardy because of anticipated public sector cuts. New figures released by the Office for National Statistics on Monday reveal overall unemployment in Scotland increased by 13,000 to 231,000 over the last three months. Scotland's unemployment rate is now 8.6% compared to 7.7% for the UK. Overall, unemployment in the UK fell by 20,000 over the last three months, although the number of people claiming Jobseeker's Allowance rose by 5300. However, a report by PriceWaterhouseCooper (PWC) has warned the situation is likely to get much worse before it gets better. PWC public sector specialist Paul Brewer said, "We have already come to anticipate the heavy job losses that are likely to arise in the public sector due to the greater reliance on this sector for employment in Scotland and the impact of the impending spending review however, what this report emphasises is the knock-on effect this might also have on private sector employment." Scottish Government enterprise minister Jim Mather said, "With a week until the UK Comprehensive Spending Review, people are still losing jobs, as shown in the unwelcome rise in unemployment a timely reminder that now is not the time to threaten Scotland's fragile recovery with Westminster cuts that are too quick and too deep." Scottish Labour finance spokesman Andy Kerr said, "The SNP have failed miserably when it comes to getting Scotland working, economic statistics generally and unemployment figures in particular show their utter complacency and failure to respond to the current challenges. "With the unemployment rate higher than anywhere else in the UK, it's time for government ministers in Scotland to get serious." Scottish Secretary Michael Moore said, "The coalition Government is taking real steps to ensure we create a secure economy which in turn creates long-term, quality jobs." Union leaders claimed the PWC report on predicted job losses demonstrate why the coalition government needs to show more restraint when planning cuts. Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison, said, "This report bears out all we have been warning over the past few months. Public spending cuts will damage the economy and will drag the country into a downward spiral." A Treasury spokesman said, "The Chancellor has set out a decisive plan to reduce the UK's unprecedented deficit and restore confidence in the UK economy." He continued, "The government is committed to supporting private sector growth and that is why the budget announced a cut in corporation tax, a NICs (National Insurance contributions) tax holiday for new small businesses and a regional growth fund." Liberal Democrat finance spokesman Jeremy Purvis said, "The fact that unemployment continues to fall in the UK but continues to rise in Scotland shows the SNP isn't working." STUC general secretary Grahame Smith added, "It is frightening to think that even before the coalition's irresponsible and ideological cuts package begins to bite we are seeing a continuing stream of bad news for Scotland, with unemployment rising and the prospects for economic recovery looking bleak." Despite the rise in unemployment, the number of people claiming Jobseeker's Allowance in Scotland last month was 1100 fewer than in August the first drop since June. The number of people out of work in Tayside and Fife fell by nearly 1400 over the past month. In Dundee, the number of people claiming Jobseeker's Allowance fell from 5172 to 4778. In Angus the number of unemployed dropped from 2316 to 2018 and in Perth and Kinross from 2127 to 1939. In Fife the number of people claiming Jobseeker's Allowance fell from 10,399 to 9793.
The number of Fifers claiming jobseeker’s allowance is at a seven-year low. Latest figures released show there are now 6,414 people claiming JSA in Fife, 2.7% of the working age population and 2,673 fewer than last September. Councillor Tony Martin, pictured, chairman of Opportunities Fife and Fife Council’s youth ambassador, said the local authority had seen month-on-month reductions in JSA claimants over the summer. But, he added, it was very encouraging to see a larger reduction of 957 claimants between August and September and a greater drop in claimants since September last year. More specifically, he was pleased to see a reduction of 825 young JSA claimants over the past year and hoped to see this trend continue with the extension of the Fife Youth Jobs Contract and announcement by the council of a further £2 million to help people find their way into work. Depute leader and economy spokeswoman Lesley Laird added: “This is another good performance for Fife. “I am particularly glad to see the gap between Fife and Scotland closing again this month.” Fife’s claimant rate is now just 0.2% above the Scottish average, compared to 1.2% this time last year. “We clearly still have more work to do in order to come into line with the national average,” she added. “It is important that we maintain our focus and positive partnership with business, education, and Fife College so that by working together we can continue to see a downward trend in JSA claimant figures as we see more Fifers get back to work.”
A Dundee woman who lied about her husband living with her has been found guilty of fraudulently claiming more than £15,500 in benefits. Sheriff Tom Hughes found Eileen Fleming (44), of Ballindean Terrace, guilty of lying to the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) and claiming her husband Lionel Fleming was not living with her to gain jobseekers allowance she was not entitled to. She was also found guilty of failing to tell Dundee City Council of a change in circumstances that her husband was living with her and fraudulently claiming housing benefit and council tax benefit she was not entitled to. Maureen Andrews, a fraud investigator with the DWP, said Fleming had signed the declaration on a jobseekers allowance application and a further jobseekers allowance rapid reclaim form, stating that all of the information provided was correct. She confirmed that Fleming had claimed she was single and only she and her daughter were living at the address. She also said that if she had declared Mr Fleming was living with her she would have been entitled to less. Fleming was found guilty of on January 14 2009 knowingly making a false statement to officials at the DWP stating she was single when in actual fact her husband Lionel Fleming was living with her, and fraudulently obtaining £1,366.82 in jobseekers allowance. She was also found guilty of on October 1 2009 knowingly making a false statement to DWP to fraudulently obtain £3,698.78. She was further found guilty of between April 23 2007 and December 5 2010, at Balmoral Gardens, knowingly failing to give prompt notification to Dundee City Council of a change of circumstances she knew affected her entitlement to housing benefit and council tax benefit and received £10,498.56 to which she was not entitled. The court heard from two of Fleming's former neighbours who claimed they were under the impression that Mr Fleming was living in her flat. In her defence Fleming told the court she had not lived with her husband since they separated in April 2007 and that to her knowledge he spent his time staying with their daughter Ashley, her daughter Claire and friends. However, giving evidence Ashley's partner John Jackson said he stayed at their house ''no more than two nights in a week''. Taking the witness stand, Fleming said after the separation her husband did not live with her but she had allowed him to use her address as a mailing address. She also admitted acting as a guarantor for him and letting him use her address for a car finance agreement. Depute fiscal Emma Stewart said: ''So you lied to that finance company but you are definitely not lying here? That's what you expect us to believe?'' Fleming replied ''Yes.'' She also admitted under cross-examination that applying for a job at the Overgate Centre she had named her husband as an emergency contact and gave the address at Ballindean Terrace as his address. Sentencing, Sheriff Hughes warned her the court services have strict guidelines with reference to benefits fraud of over £14,000 and she was in a ''very difficult situation''. He deferred sentence to August 23 for reports and a restriction of liberty order assessment.