Nicola Sturgeon must return to Parliament next week to correct the record on job losses.

At First Minister’s Questions yesterday, Nicola Sturgeon accused Kezia Dugdale of exaggerating the number of jobs that will be lost as a result of the SNP’s cuts.

The First Minister said:

“The reason why it is important to treat these issues seriously and not to be irresponsible in exaggerating is illustrated by something that Kezia Dugdale said in the chamber yesterday, which was repeated by Jackie Baillie. She said that Clackmannanshire Council was going to reduce the number of its jobs by 350. That is a puzzling claim, because Clackmannanshire Council’s budget was set the day before yesterday and the actual number is less than a third of the one that Kezia Dugdale cited.”

However, an email sent today by the Deputy Chief Executive of Clackmannanshire Council to the office of Labour MSP Richard Simpson confirms the First Minister was wrong. Nikki Bridle writes:

“The Interim Workforce Strategy is supported by a Workforce Planning Business case which provides an estimate of potential reductions in the Workforce over the next three years (2016/17 to 2018/19) based on a range of assumptions, indicating that dependent on Council decisions on policy priorities and future financial settlements , the figure may increase or decrease. However, the estimated figure is stated as 320-350 FTEs [Full Time Equivalent posts]. This figure was the reference point for the recently approved Council Budget.”

On Wednesday the Deputy First Minister John Swinney said claims about job losses have been “utterly exaggerated”. Trade unions have said that thousands of jobs will be lost because of the SNP’s budget cuts for next year.

At First Minister’s Questions yesterday Nicola Sturgeon was asked by Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale to set out how many jobs will be lost as a result of the SNP’s budget. The First Minister refused to do so.

Labour produced a plan during the budget process to set a Scottish rate of Income Tax 1p higher than the rate set by George Osborne. This would have increased the Scottish Government’s budget by more than £100 million for 2016/17 and stopped the SNP’s cuts to schools and other vital public services. The SNP and the Tories stood shoulder to shoulder to vote against this plan and for more cuts.

Scottish Labour Deputy Leader Alex Rowley said:

“Nicola Sturgeon must return to Parliament and correct the record. The First Minister tried to dismiss the number of workers losing their jobs because of SNP cuts, but the reality is very different. Up to 350 jobs will be lost over the next three years in Clackmannanshire alone. Nicola Sturgeon should now apologise to the workers and be honest about the scale of the job losses caused by SNP cuts.

Given the scale of the job losses across the country the SNP Government should set out how they intend to support those losing their jobs to find employment just as they have done in every other sector in Scotland.

Trade unions have been clear that the SNP’s cuts will mean thousands of jobs will be lost and local services like schools will face major cuts. Instead of denying the reality the SNP should use the powers we have to stop the Scottish Parliament being a conveyor belt for austerity.

Faced with a choice between using the powers of our Parliament to invest or backing the SNP’s cuts to schools and other vital services, we back to use our powers.”