More than 31,000 people in the north-east have accessed government income support since the Covid-19 pandemic began, new figures show.
According to the latest statistics published by the UK Government, around 24,100 jobs in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire were being protected by the furlough scheme at the end of December.
In Aberdeen, there were 12,500 people on furlough, while in Aberdeenshire the figure was 11,600.
By the end of last month, around 7,400 claims had also been made to the self-employed income support initiative in the region.
The total amount of self-employment support paid out in the north-east is more than £22 million.
Aberdeenshire West MSP Alexander Burnett said: “Ever since the Covid pandemic began, the UK Government have stepped up to protect jobs and livelihoods right across the north-east.
“As we continue to deal with the pandemic, the UK Government are protecting 31,500 jobs in the area which is absolutely fantastic.
“That shows the benefits of pooling our resources across the United Kingdom in a time of crisis.
“By extending the furlough scheme until the end of April, the UK Government are continuing to give the economic support necessary to safeguard vital livelihoods in both Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.”
Mr Burnett also urged the Scottish Government to speed up the distribution of business support funding.
He added: “Now the SNP Government must also step up and urgently get funding out the door to businesses far quicker than they have done over the last 10 months.”
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We have repeatedly called on the UK Government to ensure that furlough and self-employment support is available to businesses and workers for as long as it is required and we remain concerned for those individuals who are excluded from these schemes.
“We’ve allocated more than £3 billion to support business – over a third of our overall Covid-19 funding. Our support goes further – including helping workers who are unable to access the UK Government’s Self-Employed Income Support Scheme. Our Newly Self-Employed Hardship Fund paid out more than £11 million last year and the second round of funding will open for applications shortly.”
The UK Government was contacted for comment.