Jobs bosses in St Helens are celebrating after the number of people on out-of-work benefits fell despite Universal Credit being rolled out.
Officials at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) were braced for a surge in claimants once the full service was introduced as a wider range of customers would be working with the Jobcentre.
However, the July figures instead show 3,075 were on out-of-work benefits in the town in July, a one per cent drop from the same time 12 months ago, while the 635 jobseekers aged 18 to 24 represented a fall of 13 per cent over a year.
The DWP has now hailed the roll-out as a great success and also said the St Helens jobs market is buoyant.
Clive Morris, DWP spokesman for Merseyside, said: "We are delighted with the drop in claimants as we were expecting the numbers to automatically go up with a larger range of people using our services.
"I spoke to staff in St Helens and they are talking about working extensively with employers to support them through their recruitment.
"One local business attached to the retail trade is expanding and has 80 vacancies and a small manufacturing company is recruiting 30 people.
"We feel the Universal Credit roll-out has gone very smoothly and that's through working with our partner organisations such as the local authority, Citizens' Advice and training companies."
Dozens of visits have been made to the Jobcentre Plus by people working in the employment sector to ensure St Helens residents get the right advice when applying for Universal Credit.
Mr Morris was particularly pleased with the figure for 18-to-24-year-olds as it coincides with the level of young people being unemployed and not in full-time education reaching a record low of 4.7 per cent.