IN recent weeks the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak MP, has warned that the UK is heading into a recession that is unprecedented in scale.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics have shown that the number of people in Scotland claiming unemployment benefit has increased by 66.9% and the unemployment rate has climbed to 4.1%. Those numbers only account for the period ending March and so only give us a horrifying insight into the economic impact of this pandemic for many families.

Unfortunately, for some, this impact is already being felt as Ovo Energy recently announced plans to shut its Glasgow office at Waterloo Street.

Thus far many millions of jobs across the United Kingdom have been saved by the UK Government’s Job Retention Scheme (furlough) as well as the extensive measures of support offered to the self-employed and through a strengthened welfare safety net.

The business support offered by the UK Government, and partially replicated by the Scottish Government, has been crucial in keeping otherwise viable businesses afloat during these challenging times. This will be key to our economic recovery once the worst of this crisis has passed.

In Glasgow, a new expert group has been set up to plan for the city’s recovery from coronavirus. I welcome this group but have expressed concern that its membership is not representative of the breadth and diversity of Glasgow’s business community.

Despite assurances from the leader of the council on social media that additional members would be confirmed shortly, businesses tell me they are dismayed by the sparse representation of the city’s private sector – from the construction industry to the night-time economy.

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How can we expect businesses to recover from this crisis if we don’t even invite them to the table to share their concerns?

I don’t doubt the expertise of the many academics invited to contribute to this group but if we’re going to have any chance of getting our recovery right, we also need to hear from those on the ground with the practical experience of building wealth and prosperity.

In her column in this paper on the May 6, the leader of the council said that we needed a “team response” in Glasgow once we exit lockdown and then went on to highlight her work with two SNP councillors to plan a Social Recovery Taskforce.

I would suggest that if Councillor Susan Aitken (above) were serious about a “team response” she might have invited opposition councillors on a cross-party basis to engage with these proposals rather than announcing them in the press with only consultation with members of her own group.

There is no doubt that the lockdown measures which have helped to save so many lives have also created an economic emergency.

For this city to genuinely move forward, I agree with the leader of the council – we need a Team Glasgow response.

Team Glasgow means all parties, all communities and all sectors of the economy having the opportunity to map our future.