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Unemployment rises for first time in over two years

Unemployment rose by 15,000 between March and May to 1.85 million, the first rise in more than two years, official figures show.

Unemployment rises for first time in over two years Credit: Philip Toscano/PA Wire

The number of people claiming unemployment-related benefits last month rose by 7,000 to 804,200, according to Office for National Statistics figures.

Average earnings increased by 3.2% in the year to May, 0.5% up on the previous month.

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'Issues' in representation among Civil Service workforce

Women, ethnic minorities and people with disabilities are all still under-represented in the Civil Service - with "issues" remaining at senior level, the National Audit Office (NAO) has warned.

While around 53 per cent of civil servants are women, the report found, this figure fell to 38 per cent at senior levels - and just six of 17 departmental heads are female.

Just six of 17 Civil Service department heads are women Credit: PA

Minority ethnic workers accounted for 10 per cent of the workforce - just two per cent below the figure for the total working population - but this fell to seven per cent in the senior Civil Service.

And representation of people with disabilities remained low at five per cent. Amyas Morse, head of the NAO, urged the government to do more to improve the diversity of its Civil Service.

The Civil Service needs a workforce that reflects our increasingly diverse society and to embrace an inclusive approach, for both strategic and operational reasons.

This is especially so at a time of ongoing austerity when the service will have to do more with less.

– Amyas Morse, NAO

Could Midland Bank be set for a comeback?

Industry experts believe HSBC may resurrect the old Midland brand, before selling off the UK arm of its business.

The group, which today outlined plans to cut as many as 8,000 British jobs, is moving its head office to Birmingham and said it plans to rebrand its UK retail banking business.

Economics Editor Richard Edgar reports on the changes and a potential return to the "Midland" name HSBC dropped 23 years ago:

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HSBC plans branch closures in Britain

Along with the announcement of 7,000-8,000 UK job cuts, HSBC has confirmed that it will "trim" its 1,057 branches across the UK.

HSBC plans to 'trim' its UK branches

The group said it aims to cut its worldwide network of branches by 12%, with the UK being one of seven regions to be impacted - but it declined to give further details for British branch closures.

HSBC's British high street operations are also set to undergo a rebrand, CEO Stuart Gulliver said. They will operate under a new brand name that is yet to be decided on.

HSBC's UK head office is being relocated from London to Birmingham by 2019 amid regulatory "ringfencing" rules, giving rise to speculation that the group's retail arm will see a return to the "Midland" brand.

Its UK branches used to be known as Midland Bank before they were swallowed up by HSBC in 1992.

HSBC to decide on HQ move 'by the end of the year'

HSBC will decide on whether to move its headquarters from London by the end of the year.

Any move that goes ahead will take two years to execute, ITV News Business Editor Joel Hills reported.

The bank, which today announced it is axing between 7,000 and 8,000roles from its 48,000-strong UK workforce as part of a cost-cutting strategy, said it is "too soon" to say whether it will keep its UK head office.

'Frontline staff are being punished for actions of bankers'

Unite has called on HSBC to make any job cuts "voluntary" as it blamed the bank's expected cull of its UK workforce on the misconduct of senior and investment bankers.

HSBC, Europe's largest bank, is expected to slash as many as 8,000 UK jobs as part of a global restructuring initiative.

Unite are seeking to meet with UK chief executive Antonio Simoes as soon as possible to demand that any redundancies are through voluntary means or managed through natural attrition.

After all the scandals of recent years, frontline staff have suffered time and time again as they are forced to pay for the mistakes of others with their jobs, their terms and conditions and their reputation.

– Dominic Hook, Unite national office for finance
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