ST HELENS has seen a slight drop in unemployment benefit claimants in the new figures, although numbers are still slightly higher than 12 months ago.

In newly-released statistics, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) says there were 4,167 claimants in the borough.

The figures are based on November 2019.

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This has seen a slight decrease from the 4,286 three months previously.

However, the figure represents a two per cent increase on the same time 12 months previously. This is a 12 per cent decrease on five years ago.

The figures are released among a backdrop of the employment rate for the north west of 76.2 per cent - the highest rate on record for the region.

On the latest figures for St Helens, DWP spokesperson David Brown said they represent a continuation of a steady picture in St Helens.

"It is mostly hovering around similar figures and any increases or decreases have been minor," he said.

"In terms of what's going on in St Helens at the moment there is a big focus on trying to encourage people to take opportunities in social care.

"Among 18 to 24-year-olds there were 815 claimants in St Helens, 82 more than 12 months ago. Compared to five years agoit is an increase of 95 from five years ago.

"Lots of activities are ongoing to try and address that."