THE number of people claiming unemployment benefit in the Bradford district fell last month by more than 200, according to the latest figures.

Information released today by the Office of National Statistics showed that 12,219 people in the district claimed Jobseeker's Allowance during December, down from 12, 422 the previous month.

The current claimant count stands at 3.7 per cent of the district's population, compared to a regional average of 2.7 per cent and a national average of 2 per cent.

December's data breaks down as 7,718 men and 4,501 women claiming Jobseeker's Allowance in Bradford.

Diana Towler, employer and partnership manager for the DWP at the Jobcentre on Manningham Lane in Bradford, welcomed a further fall in unemployment, on the back of the figures being boosted the previous month by retailers taking on temporary seasonal staff.

She said that a fall in youth unemployment accounted for most of the overall drop. "This is down to apprenticeships and the youth contract measures which were introduced two to three years ago. It includes opportunities for work experience, which helps young people have some experience to put on a CV and with their confidence."

She added that the number of job vacancies in the region was currently at a 14 year high, which indicated that local employers are feeling more confident.

The picture across the district's five constituency areas was changeable with four experiencing a fall in unemployment, while in Keighley the figures jumped up slightly.

In the Keighley constituency, the level of claimants rose by 29 to 1,408, which is still 451 down on the previous year. MP for the area, Conservative Kris Hopkins said the rise was disappointing after a year of positive news on local jobs.

"However, I have spoken to many local employers with plans to recruit in the months ahead and, as I have said repeatedly, we can never be complacent," he said.

He added that he is hosting a jobs fair in Keighley next month.

Meanwhile, Bradford West had both the highest level of claimants, with 3,752 people on Jobseeker's Allowance, and the biggest monthly drop in claimants in the district, a fall of 77 on the previous months, and 1,271 on last year.

Respect MP George Galloway, said he didn't trust the Government's figures. "Bradford West still has the sixth highest unemployment rate of 650 British constituencies. It's 8.1 per cent, getting on for twice the national average. I keep arguing for special measures for Bradford but this Government, if it is listening, simply doesn't care."

Bradford East continued to experience the biggest annual drop in claimants, down 1,481 on last year to 3,433. This was a fall of 39 on last month.

The area's MP, Liberal Democrat David Ward, welcomed the news, which meant that unemployment was at its lowest level in the constituency for more than six years, since December 2008.

He said: “December’s figures speak for themselves; unemployment at its lowest level since 2008 and 20% lower than Labour left it in 2010. Youth unemployment in Bradford East is even more encouraging and is 30% lower now than in 2010.

“Wages are now growing faster than inflation so the weekly shop for Bradfordians will now go that little bit further which really helps."