THE number of people claiming Jobseeker's Allowance in Wirral increased last month.

According to the Office for National Statistics the number rose to 6,382 in December - a rise of 88 on the previous month’s figure of 6,294.

The official data shows that nationally, number of people in a job has risen 280,000 in the last three months - the largest quarterly increase since records began.

There are now a record-breaking 30.15m people in work – an increase of 1.3m since 2010.

Unemployment has fallen 167,000 in the last three months, the largest quarterly fall since August to October 1997.

The unemployment rate now stands at 7.1%. But youth unemployment reached a record high of more than 1m, with more 16 to 24 year olds now out of work than at any time since 1992.

Cllr Pat Hackett, Wirral's cabinet member for the economy, said: "While Wirral’s JSA figures have risen slightly by 88 over the past month, the rate of claimants - 3.2% - remains unchanged and means Wirral still has the lowest rate in the Liverpool City Region.

"While significant challenges remain, it is pleasing that Wirral has reduced its number of claimants by nearly 19% in the past year with 1,477 claimants coming of the register.

"One of the reasons for this success has been the achievements of the ReachOut Partnership, which is a combination of voluntary and community organisations contracted by the Council to help hard to reach members of the community – those who have particular barriers in the way of them finding work – get back into employment.

"Over the last three years, they have supported more than 2,000 people to find a job – an average of 65 per month – and their work is a key part of the Council’s Worklessness Support programme."

Employment minister and Wirral West MP Esther McVey said: "Creating jobs and getting people into employment are central to our economic plan to build a stronger, more competitive economy, so it is very encouraging news that we've seen a record-breaking rise in employment over the last three months – the largest ever.

"With the highest quarterly fall in unemployment since 1997, it's clear that the Government’s long-term economic plan to get people off benefits and into work so they can secure their future is proving successful."

Wirral South MP Alison McGovern said: "The reality faced by my constituents is that it has been a tough last three years and they are still finding finances difficult.

"We have a long way to go and Government measures such as the bedroom tax are hitting those people who can least afford rising prices.

"Most people want an economic recovery that is well shared among everyone."

Apologies for an earlier report incorrectly stating the number of Wirral claimants had fallen significantly.

Unfortunately, that article was erroneously based on the 2013 year-end total, and not the month-by-month figures.