A sharp increase was seen in the number of jobless Brits in the three months to July, taking the unemployment rate up to 7.9 per cent.

The youth unemployment rate in the UK now stands at 19 per cent (PA). The number of unemployed 18-24 year olds shot up by 77,000 to 769,000 – a rise of 11%.

The sudden rise may be down to the fact that the academic year has ended and thousands of teenagers, unable to get a place at university, have now flooded the job market.

Some 2.51 million Brits are now out of work, with young people bearing the brunt of the increase in unemployment. The UK's youth unemployment rate now stands at around 19 per cent.

Trades Union Congress general secretary Brendan Barber described the signs of a 'second wave of rising youth unemployment' as 'most worrying', and criticised the government's decision to slash Education Maintenance Allowance.

The figures mark the largest quarterly increase in unemployment since the three months leading up to 2009.

Employment minister Chris Gayling described the figures as 'unwelcome', telling the BBC: “It underlines the nature of the challenge we face and I think will reinvigorate our determination to take steps that will get the economy growing to support business and try and create an environment where the private sector can continue to grow the number of people it employs.”

Meanwhile, shadow work and pensions secretary Liam Byrne said “we have the starkest evidence yet that the government’s plan for growth is hurting, not helping, Britain”.