THE number of people claiming unemployment benefit in Bradford fell by almost 700 last month.

According to the Office of National Statistics,13,004 people claimed Job Seekers' Allowance (JSA) across the district in October, a reduction of 691 on September.

There was also a 26 per cent decrease year-on-year.

Employer and partnership manager for Bradford Jobcentres Diana Towler welcomed the latest reduction.

She said: "It’s all looking bright. The most encouraging point is that there has been a rise in employment over the last year and it is for full-time jobs, not just seasonal work.

“There are less people making a claim for benefit, which has a knock-on effect.

"We are looking forward to the Broadway Centre opening up next year, which will create a substantial number of jobs - not just jobs in retail, but also in hospitality and catering and in the service sector."

But she said there was still a lot of work to do.

The 13,004 people claiming JSA in Bradford represents four per cent of the population - above the regional average of 2.8 per cent and the national average of 2.1 per cent.

October's statistics break down to 8,120 males and 4,884 females claiming JSA in Bradford.

There has also been a reduction in the number of 18-to-24 year olds claiming unemployment benefits. Last month, 3,230 claimed JSA, a drop of 280 from the previous month.

Bradford West MP Respect George Galloway called for a "massive" investment in jobs and added: "This is a case of the small spark of good news being overwhelmed by the bad. It is good that more than 1,000 people have come off the dole since October last year, but it's a continuing disgrace that my constituency remains one of the country's top unemployment blackspots.

"The unemployment rate is at least a third higher than the national average and Bradford West remains the sixth-worst place in the UK for being unemployed. We need a massive investment in real jobs and we need it now."

In Keighley and Ilkley the number of people claiming unemployment benefit fell by 37 to 1,448.

MP Kris Hopkins (Con) said: "I never tire of welcoming news of more new jobs being created in Keighley and Ilkley, and I am especially pleased at the numbers of young people who, over the last year, have been able to enter employment, education or training."

Bradford East MP David Ward (Lib Dem) said unemployment in Bradford East was at its lowest level for five years.

He added: "Whilst there is still a lot of progress that needs to be made in Bradford, the improving economic picture is proof that the hard choices and positive action that the Liberal Democrats have taken in Government has brought stability and growth back to the UK economy and to Bradford."