UNEMPLOYMENT in the district has hit a new two-and-a-half year high, according to the latest figures released today.

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that there were 9,515 people claiming unemployment benefits across the Bradford district in April.

This is an increase of 4.4 per cent - or 405 people - on the previously reported figures from two months earlier. It is also a rise from the 9,325 claimants in March, a rise of 2.0 per cent.

The last time unemployment was higher was in September 2015, when the figure was 9,690.

In addition the claimant count rose slightly to 2.9 per cent, compared to the regional figure of 2.6 per cent and 2.2 per cent nationally, both of which also increased by 0.1 points on the previously month.

The data from the ONS includes those claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance and Universal Credit benefits principally for unemployment reasons.

Tracy Othen, for JobCentre Plus, said that Bradford employment figures were "significantly higher than five years ago".

"We continue in our Jobcentres to support people with finding work that matches their skills, and suits their circumstances.

"To support our claimants we have a Spotlight on opportunities within the Early Years and Childcare sectors this month with a variety of activities happening in our Jobcentres to support this and increase customers knowledge of this sector.”

In Bradford East the number of claimants rose month on month to 2,605, a jump of 3.6 per cent or an additional 90 people claiming the benefit.

An extra 35 people claimed unemployment benefits in Bradford South in April compared to the previous month, a rise of 1.8 per cent to reach 1,975 claimants.

Meanwhile in Bradford West, the number of people claiming also rose by 1.8 per cent, or 50 people, to hit 2,860.

In Keighley the number of claimants rose by 10 people or 0.9 per cent on the month, to 1,135 claimants.

In Shipley there were five extra people claiming benefits, to 945, a rise of 0.5 per cent.

In Yorkshire and Humber the February claimant count rose, by 2,928 on the previous month, to 85,482.

Nationally the figure was 896,955, a rise of 31,246 claimants over the same time period.

Other figures show that unemployment nationally is down 46,000 on the quarter, with the employment rate of 75.6 per cent a new record.

The secretary of state for work and pensions, Esther McVey, said: “Since 2010 we have seen more than 3.2 million people move into work right across the UK. Youth unemployment has fallen by over 40 per cent and the unemployment rate has not been lower since 1975.

“Today’s figures once again cement that turnaround, with a new employment rate record of 75.6 per cent, and on average over 1,000 people each and every day, since 2010, getting a job.

“With wages growing faster than inflation and increases in the personal tax allowance, not only are more people bringing home a pay packet but they are keeping more of their hard earned money for themselves and their families.”

The Department for Work and Pensions has launched a new ‘Find a Job’ service this week to support thousands of jobseekers into work. The site will continue to allow jobseekers to search for work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and will offer jobseekers and employers a simpler and more streamlined way to log in and access their information.

Separate figures out today show that 870,000 people are now on Universal Credit as the rollout of the new benefit continues. Of these, 36 per cent were in employment.