The Scottish government has announced plans to invest millions of pounds to help boost the generation of new jobs and insisted its employment market is making reasonable progress.

In a speech to a Business Gateway event in Edinburgh, finance secretary John Swinney revealed that £10 million would be made available to help encourage the country's small and medium-sized businesses to hire new talent.

"For a sustained period, Scotland has been the only nation in the UK with rising employment and falling unemployment," he said. "There can be no let up in our efforts to help people into work."

Mr Swinney also renewed his attack on the Westminster government, accusing the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition of cutting public spending with excessive haste, potentially jeopardising the recovery north of the border.

Last week, official figures revealed that unemployment in Scotland had fallen by 13,000 between October and December last year, although the number remained up by 10,000 on the same point in 2009.

Posted by Cameron Thomson