THE number of people claiming jobseekers' allowance in Barnsley has fallen to its lowest level in five years.

There were 5,883 claimants in November according to the latest monthly figures. The figure represents four per cent of the working-age population.

It was the ninth consecutive monthly fall, and is the lowest since December 2008 when the UK economy was about to enter recession.

Leader of the council Sir Steve Houghton said it was excellent news because the number of people on other benefits was also falling and it meant a genuine growth in jobs.

"Sometimes the figures have gone down because they've gone onto other schemes, or other benefits," he added.

"With this we know where these people are going. Our businesses are growing.

"The vast majority of these people coming off JSA are going into work.

"It's obviously great for them, and their families, but for the whole town as well because the only way we can bring prosperity to Barnsley is by getting more people into work."

In December 2008 there were about 5,500 people on jobseekers' allowance. Within three months it rocketed by 2,000 to about 7,500 where it roughly hovered for about a year.

There have been many fluctuations since but it hit a high in February this year at just over 8,000.

That had been the highest since the latter days of John Major's government in August 1996.

However, it has fallen every month since February.