THE number of people claiming Jobseeker's Allowance in Wirral increased by more than 300 last month.

Official figures from the Office for National Statistics show the number rose to 6,710 in January - a rise of 328 on the previous month of 6,382.

Nationally, the number of people claiming the benefit dipped to 1.22m in January, down by 27,000 - the 15th consecutive monthly fall.

But 1.4m people are in part-time jobs because they cannot find full-time work, a fall of 29,000 over the latest quarter but 46,000 higher than a year ago.

Commenting on figures for the North West, which have registered a small decrease, West Wirral MP and Employment Minister Esther McVey said: “With the North West seeing its unemployment rate fall to 8.1% this quarter - the same as London - it’s clear that the Government’s long-term plan to build a stronger, more secure economy is helping businesses create jobs and get people into work.

“Nationally, employment continues to increase and youth unemployment continues to fall, which means more people have the security of a regular wage and can plan for their future."

Cllr Pat Hackett, Wirral's cabinet member for the economy, said: "I would give these figures a cautious welcome.

"Historically at this time of year, figures increase both nationally and locally as the effects of temporary employment over the Christmas period comes to an end.

"Over this period, there has been an average monthly increase of 444 claimants over the past eight years.

"Therefore the increase of 328 claimants this month is not as high as in recent years, which is encouraging.

"Wirral still has the lowest rate of JSA Claimants in the Liverpool City Region at 3.4 per cent, an increase of 0.2 per cent this month.

"However, I'm pleased to see that since January last year, 1,582 claimants have come off the register.

"Where young people are concerned, the figures show that despite a slight increase this month, Wirral has still reduced the number of claimants aged 18-24 since January last year, a reduction of almost 22 per cent.

"We will continue to work hard to create and safeguard jobs in this challenging economic climate, and create an environment that supports business growth and investment in new jobs.

"I'm particularly encouraged that we are starting 2014 with new businesses coming to Neptune Point in New Brighton."

Wirral South MP Alison McGovern said: "Figures have shown that the number of Jobseekers Allowance claimants has increased in my constituency for both adults and young people in the last two months.

"Whilst we have seen national figures over recent months showing a fall in unemployment it is the overall climate that we should be concerned about.

"Beneath the unemployment numbers there are people struggling on zero hour contracts, people who can't secure enough hours and many more worried about their job over the past three years.

"This is the reality that many of my constituents and people over the country are facing and it is about time the government faced up to this reality as well."