THE number of people claiming benefits locally rose by nearly 1,200 in a month.

Many more are expected to join the ranks of the unemployed as the government’s furlough scheme winds down.

Nationally, figures showed many of the 730,000 people who have come off employers’ payrolls since March have not yet shown up in the unemployment figures.

The figures came on the day Debenhams became the latest big name to announce redundancies, with plans to lay off 2,500 shop and warehouse staff.

In the Southampton City Council area, the universal credit count – which includes the unemployed and people on benefits for other reasons – rose by 633 to 28,263 between June 11 and July 9.

In Eastleigh, the figure was up by 132 to 8,961; in the New Forest, up 129 to 9,907; in Winchester, up 118 to 6,089; in Test Valley, up 100 to 7,157; and in Fareham, up 84 to 5,566.

The national unemployment rate remained steady at 3.9 per cent, despite predictions it could reach 4.2 per cent – but 9.6million people have been part of the furlough scheme, which is due to end in October.

Workers who lose their jobs after furlough are likely to enter the jobs market at the same time as many students.

Yael Selfin, chief economist for KPMG, said: “As the job retention scheme unwinds, we expect unemployment to rise quickly in the fourth quarter.”

Adele Blakely, of the Department for Work and Pensions, said the local claimant count had not yet gone up sharply. “It’s not a huge number compared to those employment figures. Well see those start to creep up in response to that,” she said.

She said the department was taking on more staff in expectation of higher unemployment from September onwards.

A range of extra support included sector-based work academies (SBWA), which offers help with the skills that employers in key sectors look for. It offers work placements based around current vacancies.

In Hampshire, DWP staff were speaking to local employers to bring them into the scheme.

Other initiatives include “mentoring circles” for young people aged 16-24.

She said there had been a rise in vacancies in the hospitality trade, as well as in cleaning, care and security.

Mike Cherry, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said the future of the job retention scheme should be reviewed. “The option of a meaningful extension to the furloughing initiative should be kept open, especially now local lockdowns are a fact of life and a meaningful second spike in coronavirus infections is possible,” he added.