DORSET has relied heavily on the government’s coronavirus bailouts and could face mass unemployment when they come to an end, it is claimed.

Analysis by the US shows 31 per cent of workers in the BCP Council area are on either the coronavirus job retention scheme or the parallel scheme for the self-employed.

In the Dorset Council area, the figure is 36 per cent.

That adds up to 123,000 people across the county who could be unemployed if the economy does not recover, the TUC says.

It has published a report called A Better Recovery for the South West, which says rural and coastal communities, with lower average pay and higher insecure employment, have been hit especially hard by the Covid-19 crisis.

The BCP area has 50,000 people – 24 per cent of the workforce – on the coronavirus job retention scheme. Another 15,000 – seven per cent – are on the self-employment income support scheme.

In the Dorset Council area, 43,100 – 26 per cent of the workforce – are on the furlough scheme. Another 15,200 –nine per cent – are on the self-employment scheme.

The furlough scheme will taper out from next month and end on October 31, while the second and final round of payments to the self-employed will happen in August.

TUC regional secretary Nigel Costley said: “People are very worried about their jobs. Many have been laid off already. And just last week, our unions received dozens of redundancy notifications – with many more expected to come. This situation is only going to get worse unless something is done now.

“Losing your job is a dreadful experience – devastating for families. And devastating for our communities.

“If we allow mass unemployment to take hold, our economy will be smaller, and the recovery, much slower.

“That’s why investing in good jobs is at the heart of our recovery plan for the South West. Jobs in a reborn manufacturing sector. Jobs in the green tech we need to safeguard our future. More and better jobs in our revived tourism and creative sectors. It’s just common sense.

“And we must value our public services much more than we did before. Because after ten long years of cuts, our key workers found it much harder than it should have been.”

The TUC claims the impact of the pandemic was worse because of a decade of cuts to public services and a “failure to strengthen” the region’s economy.

It wants authorities, councils and local enterprise partnerships, working in partnership with unions and business, to invest in infrastructure and jobs.

It says procurement processes should include conditions that will improve job quality, strengthen worker representation, increase training and tackle discrimination.

It says authorities should run services in-house by default in order to raise employment and delivery standards.