Official figures published today by the Office for National Statistics show that unemployment has reached an 11-year high.

Chief economic adviser for the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) David Kern said:

"These labour market figures were dire and confirm that the economy is now facing a severe recession. Unemployment is up, employment is down and job vacancies have fallen further.

"It is important that the Government announces in its forthcoming Pre Budget Report a credible fiscal package that gives priority to helping businesses and families cope with the downturn. These figures also support the case for a further half per cent cut in interest rates in December."