THE latest jobless figures, although not surprising, are nevertheless harrowing. Most worrying are the figures for 18-24-year-olds, who are just starting on their own careers and the country’s future out of Covid-19. The fear is that this figure is only going to get worse with school leavers and graduates round the corner.

Perhaps a system should be put in place for businesses which are receiving assistance from the Government, be it from Westminster or Holyrood, to employ workers in this age group, along the lines of the apprentice schemes or job creation or work experience schemes. It would benefit not only the young, but the country as we recover from the Covid-19 crisis.

Another group of particular concern are the over-60s, many of whom are being forced into an early retirement. Their prospect of gaining future employment will be very scarce. Many in this sector have worked and contributed to society all their lives, effectively allowing the Government to put financial packages in place for the good of the country. So it would be rather harrowing for many in this sector to be effectively signing on, applying for benefits for the first time in their working lives, so what could the Government do for them?

Holyrood and Westminster have both shown the speed at which legislation can be processed in an emergency and for many over-60s, this is indeed a personal emergency. So a review of the pension age in light of Covid-19 may be one road we need to explore. After all, the process of gaining your state pension would cut the rather tedious and expensive process to all parties of applying for benefits. The 18-24-year-olds are the ones who should be getting any jobs that become available and if the over-60s have their state pension, a means to live on, they may want to consider contributing to this new caring society we hope to establish by volunteering. It could become a win- win for all groups on what will be a long road to recovery.

Catriona C Clark, Falkirk.

ANDREW McKie lets off too lightly the “free market” think tanks which have endorsed the unprecedented level of government peacetime spending in response to the pandemic (“We will need tax cuts to help the country to fight back”, The Herald, May 19).

One of the things the pandemic demonstrates is the centrality of government, both national and local, in dealing with the crisis. Only government has the legal powers and the financial capability to deal with, or at least substantially mitigate, the consequences of which we are all aware.

Nevertheless, shrinking the state was an undeclared objective of the years of austerity under recent Conservative-led governments, which weakened government and NHS resilience, amongst other things. Something the pandemic response has demonstrated is that austerity was a policy of ideological choice, not necessity. Theresa May famously said that “there is no magic money tree”. We now know what to make of that remark and the positions taken by free-market think tank sages.

That government debt will have to be brought down over time is economically sensible, but it matters greatly how and over what timeframe it is done. One main way of dealing with deficits and debt (very different things) is through economic growth and even a low level of inflation will help reduce the real cost over time.

Mr McKie suggests that tax cuts to businesses will help the economic recovery. No doubt some assistance to the supply side of the economy will be needed but there is also the demand side, which, in large part, means households. Tax cuts to households, particularly low-income households, would significantly raise demand as they will be highly likely to spend, rather than save, any additional income. Markets are, after all, about both supply and demand.

Councillor Alasdair Rankin (SNP), City of Edinburgh Council, Edinburgh EH1.

I COULD not agree more with Eric Melvin (Letters, May 19). People like Jacob Rees-Mogg, whose companies promote making clients even richer by taking advantage of the Covid-19 crisis, and take their money offshore, avoiding taxes in the UK, should be where to go in no uncertain times. And if companies, including those running care homes in Scotland, can claim to have made losses and pay no tax, but still pay out tens of millions in dividends to shareholders, then they should be told the same.

We don’t need these people. Surely, there are plenty of smart heads who can provide good businesses, fair pay for staff, and a decent profit for themselves, without the obscene greed we see from so many.

Andy Stenton, Glasgow G1.