UNEMPLOYMENT figures in Whitchurch continue to rise thanks to Universal Credit.

The latest Office of National Statistics (ONS) figures reveal that there were 245 unemployment benefit claimants in Whitchurch in August, compared to 165 last year.

A Department of Work and Pensions spokesman said: "The claimant count has increased this month which we were expecting, the claimant naturally fluctuates over time and always has, but it’s important to note that we fully expect to see higher numbers in the claimant count because the statistics now fully factor in Universal Credit, which is replacing a range of different benefits.

"So people who were previously not included in the measure now fall under it because they’re in receipt of Universal Credit."

A total of 4,365 people claimed unemployment benefits in Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin, compared to 3,975 in August 2017.

The UK’s unemployment rate has not been lower since the 1970s, at four per cent, while the number of people in employment remains at a near record high 75.5 per cent, according to the latest figures.

Regular wages increased for the sixth consecutive month, up 2.9 per cent, with 1.45 million more children living in a home with all adults who are in work.

Alok Sharma, minister of state for employment, said: "With unemployment rate still at its lowest level in 43 years, it is good to see that for the sixth month in a row wages have grown faster than inflation helping to put more money in people’s pockets.

“Households across the country are benefiting from the security of being in work, and with increasing wages and GDP growth of 0.6 per cent last quarter we are delivering an economy that supports working people.”

“We’ve taken millions out of paying income tax altogether, and by raising the National Living Wage have helped deliver the fastest pay rise for the lowest earners in 20 years.”