THE Government has pledged to do “everything it can” to help people hit by Hampshire’s bombshell job announcements.

The Daily Echo yesterday challenged Employment Minister Chris Grayling over the string of shock announcements that will put hundreds of residents out of work.

British Gas has told 550 staff their jobs will go with the closure of the Dorset House call centre in Southampton. This came as insurance giant Zurich said it was making 163 workers redundant at its offices in Whiteley, and HSBC announced 80 job losses in Southampton.

Yesterday Mr Grayling said the announcements had been “very unwelcome”.

He said: “My message to all those people affected is, it’s hugely disappointing, it’s really difficult. Being made redundant is a pretty miserable experience, it creates all kinds of uncertainties.”

The south-east’s labour market had had a “less good” month according to the latest figures, he admitted, but insisted 35,000 more people were in work compared to the previous quarter.

Asked if he was aware of the effect on the community of the sudden changes, the minister replied: “It has an impact on all the secondary businesses that depend, from the cafe over the road selling sandwiches to the petrol station down the road.

“It’s very bad news, particularly when you lose a big block of jobs like that in one go.

“Clearly our team and Jobcentre Plus will be working with people who have been affected, and we’ll do everything we can to help them back into work as soon as possible.”

Mr Grayling said he would be “always happy” to meet city MPs to discuss the jobs blow.

He was speaking as new figures showed that the number of people on the dole had fallen by more than 2,000 in April compared to March across the south, with the jobless rate falling in every district. This was before any impact of the latest jobs blows will be felt.