Knowsley tops working-age benefits table

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One in six people in Knowsley on Merseyside have received working-age benefits for at least three of the past four years - the highest proportion anywhere in Britain.

Other areas with a similar number of claimants include Blackpool, Middlesbrough and Liverpool, although in each case the number dropped slightly on the previous year.

Hart in Hampshire recorded the lowest number of claimants: just one in 50.

The total number of people in Britain claiming working-age benefits for at least three of the last four years is 2.3 million - a small drop of 0.3% on the previous year, according to new figures from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

But while most local authorities reported a fall, almost one in 10 saw the number rise.

This includes Blackpool, which is also in the top 10 areas with the highest proportion of residents to have spent a number of years claiming working-age benefits.

Employment Minister Priti Patel said: "Helping people off benefits and into work is at the heart of our long-term economic plan, and these latest figures show the number of people spending long periods on benefits is falling.

"The number of people who spent three out of the last four years on at least one of the main working-age benefits is now at its lowest level since 2006."

The DWP classes the main working-age benefits as Jobseeker's Allowance, Income Support, Employment & Support Allowance, Incapacity Benefit and Severe Disablement Allowance.

One or more of these benefits was claimed by 11,220 people in Knowsley for at least three of the past four years: 15.4% of the local population, down from 16.2% in 2014.

In Blackpool the proportion has risen slightly from 15.1% to 15.2%.

The area in Scotland with the highest proportion is Glasgow (14.4%, down from 15.3%), while for Wales it is Blaenau Gwent (14.5%, also down from 15.3%).

In 55 local authorities across Britain - roughly one-sixth of the total - at least one in 10 people have received working-age benefits for a number of years.

North Warwickshire saw the biggest rise in the proportion of claimants, up 0.5 percentage points - but this was from the low figure of 4.9%, or roughly one in 20 people.

Other areas showing similar increases include West Dorset, Rossendale in Lancashire and Kettering in Northamptonshire.